Court rules felon disenfranchisement unconstitutional

The debate over felon voting took an interesting turn today when King County Superior Court Judge Michael Spearman ruled Washington state’s voter disenfranchisement laws unconstitutional. Or more precisely, in issuing a summary judgement in favor of the plaintiffs in the case of Madison v. Gregoire, he ruled the state’s re-enfranchisement laws unconstitutional.

The case involves three indigent ex-felons who petitioned the court to have their voting rights restored despite their inability to pay their “legal financial obligations.” The plaintiffs argued that by conditioning restoration of their civil rights on their ability to pay LFOs, the state had essentially levied a poll tax on ex-felons. In granting a summary judgement and ordering that they may register to vote, Judge Spearman agreed:

Thus, the court concludes that the state has not shown a rational relationship between a felon’s ability to immediately pay LFOs and a denial of the right to vote. Accordingly, the Washington re-enfranchisement scheme which denies the right to vote to one group of felons, while granting that right to another, where the sole distinction between the two groups is the ability to pay money, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article I, Sections 12 and 19 of the Washington State Constitution and is constitutionally impermissible.

Of course the state will likely appeal, but this decision has the potential to dramatically impact the way we administer elections. The counties and the state are spending millions of dollars purging ex-felons from the voting rolls… an expensive, complicated and flawed process that now may be entirely unnecessary.

It also casts a new light on last year’s gubernatorial election contest, in which by far the largest number of disputed ballots were those alleged to be illegally cast by ex-felons. Should Madison v. Gregoire hold up on appeal, it will turn out that most of the ex-felons in question had their voting rights denied unconstitutionally.

WA’s current felon disenfranchisement laws are not only morally outrageous, they are difficult to administer and counterproductive. Secretary of State Sam Reed supports full restoration of voting rights upon release from prison, if only to simplify the voter registration process. And no less an authority than the American Correctional Institute argues that restoring voting rights helps integrate ex-felons back into society.

I had despaired that WA’s legislators lacked the fortitude to make this sensible reform in the wake of the Rossi campaign’s hype over felon voters, but now it appears that the courts may force their hands. It’s about time.

Comments

  1. 1

    (The Real) Mark spews:

    DavidA: “Statistically, most ex-felons have paid off their restitution… The CVC does not collect restitution, and it never has.”

    Uhhh… BS, BS, BS, BS… I have SEEN the actual numbers. Something like only 30% of CVC money is ever collected. You are confusing the CVC “tax” (for lack of a better term) on every conviction with the restitution that is ordered on an individual case. Oranges and tangerines… close, but not the same.

    Yes, CVC (managed by…. can you name the agency???) DOES go after criminals for the medical expenses that it has paid out to victims.

    Also… a person’s personal medical insurance is the first source of payment. Only after there is nowhere else to turn can a person go to CVC to pay for care — which is provided by limited health providers and is on par with MedicAid payments (dropping the patient on the desirability scale).

    If you want to give a felon the right to vote after they’ve done jail time, but haven’t paid court costs or the “automatic” fines (e.g. the “CVC tax” I mentioned earlier), I might be able to live with that. But if someone put the victim in the hospital and hasn’t put that situation right financially, I absolutely do NOT want them voting. I figure they forfeited their right to vote when they forfeited their victim’s right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  2. 2

    David A spews:

    You clearly know NOTHING about the process. First, there aren’t enough collections officers to chase after the money that isn’t willingly paid. Second, there are tussles between the state and the counties over who is responsible. Third, sometimes there is all kinds of red tape (hearings, etc.) required before they can even begin garnishment procedures.

    I hate to break it to you, but I am probably the most qualifiedAdmit it… you DO NOT CARE about the poor and the weak – the victims of crime. You DO NOT CARE that the little old lady with the broken hip is damaged for life – and may be stuck with inadequate care or payments of her own. You DO NOT CARE that if criminals don’t pay their restitution and if the vicitim doesn’t have insurance (raising everyone’s rates in the process), the taxpayers have to.

    I don’t? You assume to know a lot about what I care about and what I don’t.

    You just feel sorry for the poor, misunderstood criminal who wasn’t nursed by his mother and whose “right” to run rampant in the streets is being “violated” by the laws of civilized society.

    You have a vivid imagination there. Did you borrow those thoughts from someone?

    I don’t feel “sorry” for anyone. We are all responsible for the situations we find ourselves in. We all have choices, and sometimes we make the wrong ones. I am sure that you have made some wrong ones yourself sometime. (and don’t blame it on “being young”)

    The point is most people can change, and are more likely to if they had the chance.

    Do a little research and know what you’re talking about. Yes, the CVC in theory pays for everything and criminals pay into it to varying degrees (if the state can ever collect). It is NOT an insurance fund. In fact, it loses money hand-over-fist EVERY YEAR. It is SUBSIDIZED by the taxpayers because the criminals don’t pay in enough to cover it. Last year, they had to cut treatment to the bare bones in order to just survive and, IIRC, they lost health care providers because of it.

    Again, it is you who thinks you know what you are talking about, but you don’t.

    Do you know where my resitution check goes to every month? The General Fund. My victims were paid off years ago. In fact, they were paid off in a total that equalled three times their loss. If they wanted to sue me (which they could have) it could have been even more than that.

  3. 3

    mulesass spews:

    bill-89 ‘However, I would submit, in its earliest form the word servitude was also used to describe imprisonment..’

    This is more likely to refer to previous periods as a slave, where this country reduced the personhood of such people to less than one. Even if it referred to incarceration it would likely only apply to federal prison and federal elections, as the states are free to establish their own criminal laws and sanctions.

  4. 4

    Michael spews:

    So should we just distribute guns to felons as they leave prison? We wouldn’t want to discriminate against those who can’t afford to buy their own gun; they deserve second amendment rights too.

  5. 7

    Daddy Love spews:

    Guys, get over it.

    Does anyone have any convincing information that indicates that stripping a felon of his franchise results in increased payment of fines? I didn’t think so. Then why do you even make the argument that we need dienfrancisment to compel payment? Not that it stacks up against our fundamental rights.

    Equal protection is one of our most powerful protections aginst discrimination by the STate. And it does not just apply to citizens, but to “any person”(along with due process). Applying a financial test to exercise the franchise de fact constitutes a poll tax.

    Complete e-felon enfranchisement is coming. Get used to it.

  6. 8

    (The Real) Mark spews:

    Particle Man @ 96

    As long as you paid your restitution to the victim, I have much less of an objection…

  7. 10

    (The Real) Mark spews:

    David A @ 93: “Mark: And, by the way, do you know who pays for the medical care of the victims if the criminals don’t? The taxpayer.

    David: Nope, like I said, it is the Victim’s Compensation Fund that pays it.”

    Do a little research and know what you’re talking about. Yes, the CVC in theory pays for everything and criminals pay into it to varying degrees (if the state can ever collect). It is NOT an insurance fund. In fact, it loses money hand-over-fist EVERY YEAR. It is SUBSIDIZED by the taxpayers because the criminals don’t pay in enough to cover it. Last year, they had to cut treatment to the bare bones in order to just survive and, IIRC, they lost health care providers because of it.

  8. 11

    David A spews:

    But how do you distinguish between people who CAN’T pay, and people who simply WON’T pay? Toss this one out, and you can never determine the difference between the two. When someone isn’t paying a dime on the typical $500.00 felony fine (the mandatory assessment that judges can never waive), it would cost a lot for a hearing to determine whether the person CAN’T or simply WON’T.

    Gee, that’s pretty simple. If they are consistently making a payment every month (an amount set by the court) then obviously they are attempting to pay it off.

    In addition, Judge Spearman says that convicted felons should get their voting rights back immediately, before they have even started paying on their fines. What incentive does this provide for someone to ever pay a penny on their fine?

    The same “incentive” they have now: jail time for non-payment and/or garnishment. Nothing will change, regardless of whether they have the right to vote or not.

    In addition, if someone’s civil rights are restored right after they are released from prison, then there would no longer be any court jurisdiction to toss the person back in jail if they CAN and WON’T pay the fine. It would be just an ordinary debt that generally would be impossible to enforce.

    Well, the reality is, restition is really no different than your car loan, mortgage, or credit card debt. It is a monetary debt for a tangible loss. It is a civil matter that up until now has been handled through a criminal proceeding because it was convenient to do so. Otherwise the victim would have to initiate a separate civil case to objain a judgment.

    Since “equal protection” is a constitutional principle that applies to everything, it should be equally illegal to suspend a person’s driver’s license because they don’t pay their traffic fines, or refuse to renew a vehicle license because they don’t pay their parking tickets. Or to give someone a traffic ticket in the first place because they don’t have enough money to pay auto insurance.

    Guess what, it is already that way. DOL can no longer suspend your license because you owe fines on traffic tickets.

    Restitution IS NOT a Poll Tax.
    Neither is a fine.

    A fine is a criminal penalty. Restitution is a monetary debt. There is a huge diffence.

    Restitition can be considered a “Poll Tax” levied on a class of people who simply owe money.

    Goldy, Goldy, Goldy… Why do you keep misrepresenting the position of the American Correctional Association?!!Obligations such as resititution to crime victims is a part of the parole process in many states.

    Here is a direct quote: “Restoring voting rights for felony offenders once they have been discharged from incarceration or parole” [emphasis mine]

    Parole is different than probation. Parole is a portion of a sentence that wasn’t fully served in jail or prison. This state no longer has a “parole” system.

    “Parole” is where a person who was sentenced to serve x-number of years and was released ahead of time on “good behavior”. That person still “owes” time to be served and will do that time on “parole”. Usually, one of the conditions of being on parole is to make payments towards restitution. Once parole has been successfully completed, then that person is discharged from his or her sentence. Restitution payments are still owed.

    This state went to the “Just deserts” doctrine in 1984 and parole was replaced by determinate sentencing. A person is given his or her time and they serve that time and get released. Depending on the type of crime, there may be an additional year or two on supervision once they are released. When that time is up, then they too are discharged from the criminal sanction part of their sentence.

    It is one thing if the money is owed to the court. It is entirely another if it is owed for the medical bills of a 60-year-old woman that you assaulted. You took away her rights, why shouldn’t the state take away yours until she is “whole?” If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

    Restitution is a scheme. It is only levied to give the perpetrator “ownership” in his or her crime. The fact is, the state also has a “Victim’s Compensation Fund” — an insurance policy — that every inmate has to pay into in addition to paying restitution. This example you gave assumes the perpetrator is paying this woman’s medical costs out of restitution, but in reality, it is the Victim’s Compensation Fund that pays those costs.

    Not every felon owes restituion, but every felon has to pay into the VCF.

    And, by the way, do you know who pays for the medical care of the victims if the criminals don’t? The taxpayer.

    Nope, like I said, it is the Victim’s Compensation Fund that pays it.

  9. 12

    (The Real) Mark spews:

    David A @ 93: “The same ‘incentive’ they have now: jail time for non-payment and/or garnishment.”

    You clearly know NOTHING about the process. First, there aren’t enough collections officers to chase after the money that isn’t willingly paid. Second, there are tussles between the state and the counties over who is responsible. Third, sometimes there is all kinds of red tape (hearings, etc.) required before they can even begin garnishment procedures.

    Admit it… you DO NOT CARE about the poor and the weak — the victims of crime. You DO NOT CARE that the little old lady with the broken hip is damaged for life — and may be stuck with inadequate care or payments of her own. You DO NOT CARE that if criminals don’t pay their restitution and if the vicitim doesn’t have insurance (raising everyone’s rates in the process), the taxpayers have to.

    You just feel sorry for the poor, misunderstood criminal who wasn’t nursed by his mother and whose “right” to run rampant in the streets is being “violated” by the laws of civilized society.

  10. 13

    HAD ENOUGH YET? spews:

    For middleoftheroader @ 88,
    It seems to me you are continuing to overlook the principle distinction in Judge Spearman’s ruling. He cites relevant case law to re-affirm the state’s right to disenfranchise felons. Period.
    But re-examine page 9, 2nd paragraph. What he rejects is the state’s right to distinguish among different classes of felons based on the ability to raise sums of money. Please note that the state declined to argue that they had an interest in further penalizing felons who lacked the means to pay thier LFOs as quickly as others. What would you have them argue? What compelling state’s interest is served to grant the franchise to one felon and deny it to another, when both are paying off their LFOs AS FAST AS THEY ARE ABLE?

  11. 14

    righton spews:

    ARticle in Times was ridiculous…

    Basic liberal position is
    Fines are better than real jail time
    but wait, fines are discriminatory

    therefore no fines, no jail time

    stupid morons..

  12. 15

    bill spews:

    muleass,

    Article IV section 2 says
    Section 2. The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states.

    section 4 says
    Section 4. The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.

    Amendment XV says
    Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

    Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    Amendment XIX says
    The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

    Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    and Amendment XXVI says
    Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.

    Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

    Clearly since amendments XV, XIX and XXVI are about voting, these rights refered to are voting, hence the privileges and imunities in article 4 is the right to vote. I guess it depends entirely on your definition of ‘republican form of government’.

    However, I would submit, in its earliest form the word servitude was also used to describe imprisonment, hence it appears to me that amendment XV specificly prohibits denying ex felons the right to vote.

    Oh, and to michael, yes, that would also apply to gun ownership for most of those same item when applied to the second amendment.

  13. 16

    David A spews:

    First, you truly deserve hearty congratulations for doing something that most criminals do not – pay your debt to your victim. However…

    Statistically, most ex-felons have paid off their restitution. Most owed less than $3,000, and were required to start paying while they were in prison from their prison pay. Most went through a work release program that earmarked a portion of what they earned to go directly to restitution. Additionally, many had a period at least a year of community supervision with a standard condition that they pay a set amount each month. After that period, a court supervises and monitors any further debt and will impose jail time for delinquent accounts.

    Just because you know how to pump gas, doesn’t mean you know how an engine works. I’m talking about the true functioning of the process. Have you read or even followed the legislation? CVC nearly went broke last year. Under its mandate, if it runs out of money, it closes its doors. It collects only a small fraction of the restitution money. End of story.

    Considering I have been “in the system” for almost twenty years, and prior to that I was an attorney, I think I know much more than you do on the workings of the process.

    I wouldn’t believe everything you read, either. There is this tendency to report “the sky is falling” stories in order to move the public towards some sort of change in the system.

    The CVC does not collect restitution, and it never has. It does collect a set fee from every convicted felon for each crime he or she has committed. These payments are supposed to be treated as “premiums” for a state “insurance policy”. But like everything, funds tend to be raided for other purposes.

    Originally, the CVC requirement used to be $50. Over the years it has been raised a few times and the last I heard, the requirement is $2-250 per crime. If the CVC is going broke, then they will probably raise the fee.

    Remember, most felonies committed tend to be drug crimes where there is no victim. Yet a person committing a drug crime is still required to pay into the CVC fund.

    Hmmmm… lemme think… never stole… never did drugs… never drank… never hit anyone… I *did* once get a ticket for doing 35 (with traffic flow) in a 25. Does that count?

    Did you ever “fudge” on your taxes? Drove in such a manner that if you had been caught you might have been cited for assault? (aggressive driving)

    There are so many different things you might have done that could have landed you a felony conviction without even realizing it. Just because you weren’t caught, doesn’t mean that you have never done anything that *could* have gotten you in trouble.

    Most people think that there has to be an “intent” to commit a crime in order to be convicted. This isn’t always so. For me, there was intent — and it is something I am certainly not proud of now.

    Tell me… have you ever been the truly innocent VICTIM of an unexpected crime? Do you really understand what you did to those victims… beyond the monetary value of their loss??

    Ironically (and sadly) yes. Several times. Perhaps it is karma, perhaps not.

    My crime consisted of defrauding several banks of millions of dollars. My current profession (since I no longer practice law) is working as a fraud specialist for the very banks I defrauded. I have assisted in the detection and prosecution of hundreds of fraud attempts over the past fifteen years. I also work closely with ex-felons and “at risk youth” who are trying to live within the boundaries of society.

    I used to think that “hey, banks are insured”, so nobody ever got hurt. But that was just a justification that allowed me to do what I did. I never thought it through far enough to realize that it goes much, much deeper than that.

    I once heard a good “test” for whether a person was truly an honorable member of society: Imagine you’re driving a desert highway and you come to a stoplight at an intersection. The light is red. As you approach it, you can see for miles and miles in each direction and there are NO cars to be seen. You know for an absolute FACT that nobody is watching and you could never get caught. Do you run the light? Do you coast through? Do you stop?

    And if you came from a “privileged” background and still committed a crime… I hope you have to pay five, ten, FIFTY times what your victims lost. And the judge should have literally given you a slap upside the head.

    Doesn’t that take you to the level of revenge, instead of simply making things right again? It certainly doesn’t fall under that “eye for an eye” thing.

    Are you trying to “punish” someone or trying to “correct” their behavior? Which is more important to you? Punishment doesn’t usually correct anything, and it might actually make the problem worse. (You only have to look to recidivism rates to see that)

    The “honorable” me would probably stop. The “honest” me would most likely slow down a bit a drive through it, because I would know the purpose of that stop light. If there was cross traffic, they would have the right-away. If I could see for miles and not see that cross-traffic, then there would be no reason for stopping.

  14. 17

    middleoftheroader spews:

    HAD ENOUGH YET @85

    When is wealth a suspect classification? Even the judge does not argue that weatlh warrents heightened scrutiny. He states that the standard if if the state has a rational reason to an asserted goal. Requiring convicted violators to pay fines, court fees, etc., in order to satisfy the original sentence seems like a rational goal.

    After announcing his standard, the judge attempts to state that wealth, by itself, is not a bar to the exercise of a constitutional right. The cases he cites to argue that point is not convinsing to me. While granting that suffrage is one of the most important rights in our nation, these individuals are not free from their original sentences, and remain subject to a denial of other rights. The restoration of rights occurs with the completion of a sentence, and not sooner.

    Another analogy that I am thinking about is requirements to run a mile during gym class. Is it fair that some people could run a mile in 6 minutes or so, and then had the ability to rest, while other people took twice as long. The point is that the requirement is the same for all, regardless of how long it takes to fulfill those requirements.

    Again, I think the law needs to be reformed. I do not agree with the decision.

  15. 18

    middleoftheroader spews:

    RR @ several

    Yes it does help to read the opinion, but I am still not convinced that an equal protection argument is the best path toward restoring voting rights. If individuals are convicted of a crime, then they are entitiled to a different set of rights and privledges than you or I enjoy. If convicted felons have a responsibility to pay court fees, restitution, and other fines, then they do not enjoy equal protection of the law. As far as I know, neither you nor I pay any additional fines to the government unless and until we are convicted of a violation that includes a monitary penalty. Thus, convicted individuals can not claim to have the same protections or guarantees of the law as others.

    If the Washington State Supreme Court adopts this line of reasoning, that the inability to pay is equal to a loss of a fundamental right, then I will claim that the requirement that the local Democratic districts should not charge dues to affiliate with the party harms my right as a voter. If the endorsement of the local district is important to gain election to office in this county, then everyone should have the ability to influence those endorsements. (This would have been especially true if the top-two primary came into effect). The ability to pay should not affect anyone’s ability to influence the party’s endorsement.

    While this might not have been the greatest example, should we forgive loans, or repossess their belongings of individuals who can not pay them back? Should an individual be denied the right to move into the newest condo because of an inability to pay rent? I recognize that these questions go far afield, the ability to pay is a fundemantal part of the economic system we have today.

    Now I agree that those individuals convicted of a felony should get their voting rights restored, regardless of their financial debt to society, especially if non-payment of such fees may result in a return to prision, but I believe in garnishment as a method of repayment for this type of obligation. However, this method adopted by the Court is not the right way to go about it.

  16. 19

    HAD ENOUGH YET? spews:

    For middleoftheroader:
    re-read the opinion. Judge Spearman applies the equal protection clause where he finds the state is discriminating among two different classes of citizens and applying state law differently without justification.
    But not between felons and non-felons as you suggest.
    Judge Spearman finds the state to be discriminating between wealthy felons and poor felons. You may disagree with Judge Spearman in this regard, but as yet you have failed to explain why.

  17. 20

    mulesass spews:

    80-’Where in the Constitution does it say that felons have no voting rights?’

    Hello….it is a state law. There are many rights lost when one commits a crime and is convicted. Where in the Constitution does it say states cannot limit voting based on felony convictions?

  18. 21

    (The Real) Mark spews:

    Goldy, Goldy, Goldy… Why do you keep misrepresenting the position of the American Correctional Association?!!Obligations such as resititution to crime victims is a part of the parole process in many states.

    Here is a direct quote: “Restoring voting rights for felony offenders once they have been discharged from incarceration or parole” [emphasis mine]

    It is one thing if the money is owed to the court. It is entirely another if it is owed for the medical bills of a 60-year-old woman that you assaulted. You took away her rights, why shouldn’t the state take away yours until she is “whole?” If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.

    It is NOT a poll tax because the commission of a crime is fully within the voter’s control, whereas a poll tax is applied regardless of the actions of the voter.

    But maybe partisanship is a much stronger drive for you than the protection of your fellow citizens. After all, Crime Victims’ Compensation was championed by Reagan. So much for the Lefties looking out for the little guy (unless he’s a little guy with a bat that assaults old ladies).

    And, by the way, do you know who pays for the medical care of the victims if the criminals don’t? The taxpayer.

  19. 22

    headless lucy spews:

    re 79: …so what? Where in the Constitution does it say that felons have no voting rights?

  20. 24

    Michael spews:

    @80 Are you in favor of the immediate restoration of gun rights too as soon as a felon gets out of prison? Because that seems to be the logical conclusion if you are in favor of constitutional rights as soon as a felon has done their time.

  21. 25

    sgmmac spews:

    I have some time today…. I got a new grandson right before Christmas, so he keeps me busy……… This is an interesting subject. The state is still collecting those taxes that a Judge ruled were illegal………….

  22. 26

    mulesass spews:

    A poll tax would affect the ability for all poor people to vote. In WA the only poor people affected by the law are those who commit felonies.

  23. 27

    klake spews:

    Cougar you might see and hear a different view by cheking the link below. If you are using a dial up please be patience.

    Here is a powerful and amazing statement on Al Jazeera television. The woman is Wafa Sultan, an Arab-American psychologist from Los Angeles. I would suggest watching it ASAP because I don’t know how long the link will be active. She’s going to need protection and she shared some powerful information!

    http://switch3.castup.net/cune.....38;ak=null

  24. 28

    Cougar spews:

    Klake @ 34, “Who does it take to restore the voter confidence in our system”. Well, sure as hell not Katherine Harris, or Jeb Bush, or GWB, or the Rightwing Supreme Court. Since 2000 we have been the laughing stock of the world. We roam the planet trying to impose our ‘fairness’ on the world and we can’t even have an uneventful election here. We are seen as hypicrites by most of the world: Preach Christian Ethics and torture prisoners, we go running to help the world after natural disasters and GWB cannot even get off of his but to help when Katrina hit. USA under the rightwing neocons has turned into a land of hypocrites.

  25. 29

    Cougar spews:

    RR @ 48…and a set of tweezers in his left hand so he can take a leak. “Mark the hook/tweezer needle dicked welsher’. MTHTNDW

  26. 30

    Richard Pope spews:

    Bill @ 68

    The Washington Supreme Court struck due license suspension for unpaid fines based on due process in the state law then in effect several years ago. The old law said that the Department of Licensing had to suspend a license simply because of a notice received from a court of an unpaid fine, without any opportunity for the driver to have a hearing.

    There are some cases of impersonation and mistaken identity, where the actual driver gave a false name or records got mixed up. And sometimes court notices weren’t accurate. Since the old law gave no hearing rights at all, it was struck down as unconstitutional.

    I don’t think the equal protection issue regarding unpaid traffic fines has ever been ruled upon by the Washington Supreme Court.

  27. 31

    Michael spews:

    @44 Only a stupid dick can’t see the distinction between voting and carrying a handgun.

    Of course I do. One of them can be very dangerous when misused, while the other one requires a background check.

  28. 32

    klake spews:

    Since they have stopped checking for felons owing money….. do the felons need to go see a Judge to get their voting rights restored or has this Judge declared that it is automatic?????

    Commentby sgmmac— 3/28/06@ 9:47 am

    agmmac welcome back where have you been on vacation.

  29. 33

    HAD ENOUGH YET? spews:

    Richard Pope @ 64
    In Judge Spearman’s ruling granting summary judgement, he said he found the issue to hinge on

    “the narrower question of whether there is a rational justification for the state to grant the right to vote to felons who are able to pay their LFOs immediately, while denying the right to those, such as plaintiffs, who, by reason of indigency, require a period of time to pay them”.

    He found that the state had made no argument in support of such a rational justification, and that it was illogical to conclude that “a person in possesion of sufficient resources to pay the obligation immediately is the more law abiding citizen…”.

    By contrast, isn’t the state sound in arguing a rational justification in denying drivers licensing to an individual on the basis of the inability to pay an obligation arising from driving? Couldn’t it be (and isn’t it) reasonably argued that a person who shows themself unable to pay an obligation from, for example, driving drunk into a public library, is also showing themself unfit to meet the financial obligations of operating a motor vehicle?
    On the matter of determination of indigency (without addressing the absurd, non-sequitur of traffic fines): Is there any evidence to suggest that large numbers of felons are clamoring to have thier franchise restored?
    Please argue the merits of denying poor ex-felons the right to vote. Please refrain from these pointless forrays into scare tactics about countless Aaron Dixons driving around suburbia in un-insurred hoopties.

  30. 34

    Tree Frog Farmer spews:

    @69 Richard Pope Sez “However, many states deny all convicted felons their voting rights for life. And those laws have been upheld as constitutional.”
    Many? MANY ?

    “Florida is one of three remaining states that does not have an automatic provision to restore the civil rights of felons once they have completed their sentences. Members of the Conference of Black State Legislators have been fighting to change that for more than a decade.”

  31. 35

    bill spews:

    Sure, but dont you think that implies that fines are civil and not part of the actual punishment unless they are declared to be so by a judge?

    By the same token, why should voting privileges be suspended unless that suspension is actually part of the sentence? To date, most sentences seem to differentiate between the various parts, you dont stay in jail till the fine is paid. Why should fines and voting be linked?

    In my opinion, that makes part of the sentence open ended, as far as I can tell, in the US when a sentence gets issued it normally has some ending date on it, you get sentenced to a specific amount of time, why would part of it be left open like that?

  32. 36

    Richard Pope spews:

    Had Enough Yet @ 60

    Equal protection analysis depends on how important the right is and what level of scrutiny is applied. Voting is one of the most fundamental rights. So maybe the analysis would be different concerning traffic fines. But a lot depends on the judge’s philosophy. Different judges can lead to different results.

    There are lots of people in “debtor’s prisons” concerning their traffic fines. Aaron Dixon owes over $3,000 and apparently can afford to pay ($54 K salary), but has a philosophical opposition based on deeply held personal principles.

    Other folks owe a lot more than Dixon does, with minimal ability to earn enough to pay off all these fines. If such a person was able to buy auto insurance and maintain a car, but not able to pay their back traffic fines, is it equal protection to deny them the right to drive solely because of unpaid fines?

    Once a court determines that an indigent person cannot be denied the right to vote because of inability to pay criminal fines, or the right to drive because of inability to pay traffic fines, the government has to set up a hearing process to determine indigency in order to keep these systems in place. And someone would have the right to a hearing at any time — maybe they had a good job in 2003 when they got the tickets, but now they are on the skids and can’t currently pay.

    The cost of having a hearing system to determine indigency would be prohibitive as a practical matter. So government will be forced to let the people vote or drive, even if many or most of them actually have the ability to pay some or all of the criminal or traffic fines.

  33. 37

    Richard Pope spews:

    SGM Mac @ 59

    I guess this is automatic under Judge Spearman’s decision. Presumably, it would be constitutional for the government to suspend voting rights if someone can pay, but won’t pay. But there is no law presently to implement a hearing process to determine this, and probably none will be adopted due to the cost involved.

    Judge Spearman’s decision means felons can vote immediately after completing their “community custody” supervision — usually a year or so of reporting to probation after release from jail or prison (or after sentencing, if not ordered imprisoned). They don’t have to pay anything on their fines to get to vote, or prove that they are unable to pay their fines.

  34. 38

    headless lucy spews:

    Well, Richard, there must be SOME legal way for Republicans to pick the pockets of the poor and prevent them from exercising their rights???!!!??

    What’s this world coming to!!!???

  35. 39

    wayne spews:

    Richard:

    Voting is a fundamental right while driving is a privilege. I think your analogy breaks down at that point.

    I don’t imagine that denying the right to vote is a significant cause of getting ex-felons to pay their LFO’s. Given the low rates of participation in communities with a significant ex-felon population, denying voter rights is probably not that big an incentive. This really comes down to a political squabble. The GOP expects, or wants to believe, that most felons will vote Democratic, so they simultaneously want to remove the right to vote while claiming the democrats are the party of felons. Any Democrat who does think felons will tend to vote Democratic could never admit that fact, and has to claim they are standing on principal, whether they believe it or not.

  36. 40

    bill spews:

    Actually Richard youve reversed the order. A couple of years ago a court decided that you couldnt have your driving privilige pulled for non payment of fines unless the judge actually suspended your privilege and then stayed the order pending payment of the fine.

  37. 41

    Richard Pope spews:

    Wayne @ 67

    Do you think it would be constitutional to take away driving privileges for life if someone was convicted of a violent offense or a sex offense? Interesting issue, since no state that I know of has such a law on their books.

    However, many states deny all convicted felons their voting rights for life. And those laws have been upheld as constitutional.

    Whose to say how an equal protection analysis would apply in the realm of driving privileges?

  38. 43

    Tree Frog Farmer spews:

    You were sooo-o-o-o right in predicting the wingnuts would get whacked out of shape. As for Fibbertarian he gets bent out of shape easily. . . . .

  39. 44

    Ken In Seattle spews:

    “Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again…. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H.L. Hunt…a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”
    — Eisenhower wrote his brother Edgar on May 2, l956:

  40. 45

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    15

    Only a stupid dick can’t see the distinction between voting and carrying a handgun. Looks like you qualify. As a stupid dick, that is.

  41. 46

    Aexia spews:

    Allowing more felons to vote bodes well for Rossi’s 2008 campaign. After all, the vast majority of the felons in the court case voted for him.

  42. 47

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Puttybetweenears @17

    Putting this in perspective, Putty Fer Brains, what we’re really talking about is debt collection remedies. Unpaid restitution is still a debt that can be collected by wage garnishment, property seizure, and all the other legal remedies available for enforcing judgments. Of course, you can’t get blood from a rock. In the nature of things, many people who recently got out of prison are broke. Being incarcerated tends to interfere with gainful employment. That may have something to do with the fact many prisoners still owe fines and/or restitution upon release.

    Now the question is, if someone who owes a debt doesn’t have any money and can’t pay it, what to do? You say, take away their voting rights. I take it you’re in favor of debtor’s prisons, too. How about chopping off their right hands? That’ll teach ‘em to be poor!

  43. 48

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I have an idea, let’s round up all the wingfucks and ship ‘em to Saudi Arabia. No crime, no sex, and anybody who doesn’t pay their debts gets their hands chopped off. They should fit right in.

  44. 49

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Mark the Redneck will look funny with a metal hook where his right hand used to be.

  45. 51

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Richard Poop @32

    “So much for ever getting convicted felons to pay their fines.”

    If people can run for the U.S. Senate without paying their fines, why should anyone have to pay their fines before they can vote?

  46. 52

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    35

    “Dean Logan you can join the there in the jail. Hell Roger will make sure you have a great bunk mate. Commentby klake— 3/28/06@ 8:58 am”

    I’ll be happy to do cell assignments! Who do you want to bunk with tonight, klake?

  47. 54

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    38

    “Nobody should listen to you either, Roger. You’re a bitter, pathetic POS. Commentby Libertarian— 3/28/06@ 9:00 am”

    Ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo … somebody fell out of the wrong side of bed and got their fur rubbed the wrong way!

    HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR

  48. 55

    rwb spews:

    34
    jeez Klake, don’t let any of the facts over the 2004 election get in the way of your rant.
    typical Steffy talking points.

  49. 56

    Voter Advocate spews:

    The wingnuts lost another one. I can understand their frustration at having their coo-coo ideas about voting procedures and registration struck down so routinely. But, as they are suffering from the mental illness of all righties, the inability to perceive reality, they are likely to keep repeating their error(s).

  50. 57

    Voter Advocate spews:

    Hee hee, ho ho, Puddybud is complaing about white noise. I guess he thinks he has the franchise here.

  51. 58

    headless lucy spews:

    re 34: Constant repition of lies will not make your lies true,klake. If you are concerned about disenfranchisement then join the fight to get rid of Sequoia and Diebold machines. Insist that the crooked elections in Florida and Ohio be made right — and quit your blasted lying about King County before someone kicks your weasely lying ass!

  52. 59

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    33

    “an estimated 4.7 million Americans or one in 43 adults, have … a felony conviction”

    The bright side is, if this trend continues, pretty soon we’ll run out of people who can get admitted to the bar, and there’ll be fewer lawyers.

  53. 60

    sgmmac spews:

    Since they have stopped checking for felons owing money….. do the felons need to go see a Judge to get their voting rights restored or has this Judge declared that it is automatic?????

  54. 61

    HAD ENOUGH YET? spews:

    Richard Pope @ 32 says:

    “Since “equal protection” is a constitutional principle that applies to everything, it should be equally illegal to suspend a person’s driver’s license because they don’t pay their traffic fines, or refuse to renew a vehicle license because they don’t pay their parking tickets. Or to give someone a traffic ticket in the first place because they don’t have enough money to pay auto insurance”.

    You’re a lawyer so help the rest of us out here. Where in Spearman’s ruling does he extend the Washington State and U.S. constitutional protections of voting rights to “everything”? By what logic would Spearman’s ruling grant equal protection clause guarantees to operating a motor vehicle on the public right of way?
    This is not merely a rhetorical question. I’m sincerely concerned. Really.

  55. 64

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    14

    ““Did you get Bob’s memo? If Bob says they were donks, the killer from Whitefish probably was donk!”

    Puttybrains doesn’t take leaps of logic, he takes leaps across yawning chasms of illogic. But that’s par for wingnuts.

  56. 65

    Voter Advocate spews:

    26.

    If they are delinquent in their restitution payments, then they shouldn’t be allowed to vote. But as long as they are continuing to pay off their LFOs in a timely manner, and they have satisfied their criminal penalty, then there is no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

    That may be what you think the court decision should have been, but Judge Spearman’s ruling, quoted in Goldy’s article, invalidates the entire scheme of re-enfranchisment based on the ability to pay. So, even if no payment is made by the ex-felon, voting rights must be restored. The SOS has already stopped removing felons from the voting roles.

  57. 66

    headless lucy spews:

    This is fantastic! Now the Reagan, Bush, and Nixon administration can vote. There’s no need for Reps. to worry. They have plenty of felons who will vote Republican. After all, many of them were convicted by the offices of Christine Gregoire.

  58. 67

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    If I had to take a wild guess, I’d speculate that the mass killer from Whitefish, Montana, who was armed like a rightwing militia nut, most likely was a rightwing militia nut.

  59. 68

    LeftTurn spews:

    Now we see why Puddy is so bitter. He got fucked in the ass and Steffy is still on the loose!

  60. 69

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    11

    Hey Puddy, were you butt raped? Next time don’t bend over to pick up a penny from the sidewalk on Broadway, ha ha. As for “liberal judges” upholding the Constitution, well yeah, they tend to do that. Righties don’t like the Constitution, that’s already clear. As for a dumbass retard troll like you, I won’t even begin to expect you to understand something as sophisticated as the Equal Protection Clause. Righties don’t like equality, either.

  61. 70

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    12

    “Here’s a radical take on voting. Why not have you voting power determined by the number of tax dollars paid in federal income taxes? If you pay $1,000 in federal income taxes, you get 1,000 votes. Just think – you could disenfaranchise lots and lots of millionaires! Commentby Libertarian— 3/28/06@ 7:21 am”

    There’s nothing new or radical about this wingbat idea. Some rightwacko Texas oil billionaire — I think it was H. L. Hunt — was trying to peddle this idea back in the 50′s and 60′s. Nobody listened to him. Nobody should listen to you, either.

  62. 71

    Richard Pope spews:

    So much for ever getting convicted felons to pay their fines.

    Judge Spearman’s decision deals with people who supposedly CAN’T pay their fines. I am sure there are a few extreme cases of those — such as people who actually can’t earn a living, or people who owe hundreds of thousands in restitution for embezzlement (and don’t have the money they stole anymore).

    But how do you distinguish between people who CAN’T pay, and people who simply WON’T pay? Toss this one out, and you can never determine the difference between the two. When someone isn’t paying a dime on the typical $500.00 felony fine (the mandatory assessment that judges can never waive), it would cost a lot for a hearing to determine whether the person CAN’T or simply WON’T.

    In addition, Judge Spearman says that convicted felons should get their voting rights back immediately, before they have even started paying on their fines. What incentive does this provide for someone to ever pay a penny on their fine?

    In addition, if someone’s civil rights are restored right after they are released from prison, then there would no longer be any court jurisdiction to toss the person back in jail if they CAN and WON’T pay the fine. It would be just an ordinary debt that generally would be impossible to enforce.

    Since “equal protection” is a constitutional principle that applies to everything, it should be equally illegal to suspend a person’s driver’s license because they don’t pay their traffic fines, or refuse to renew a vehicle license because they don’t pay their parking tickets. Or to give someone a traffic ticket in the first place because they don’t have enough money to pay auto insurance.

    This ruling should be good news to scofflaws such as noted insurance opponent and U.S. Senate hopeful Aaron Dixon. Dixon makes almost $60,000.00 per year, and could afford to buy auto insurance or pay his traffic tickets if he really wanted to. But because they are certainly a few people who actually can’t afford auto insurance or to pay their tickets, they can sue to make these laws unconstitutional for everyone and allow undeserving folks like Dixon to get off the hook.

    Of course, Dixon isn’t a convicted felon (just a lot of misdemeanors), and has been disenfranchised only by his own voluntary choice not to ever vote. However, there are plenty of convicted felons making decent money who never pay a penny of their criminal fines. Judge Spearman wants every single one of these folks to b able to vote immediately.

  63. 73

    klake spews:

    Goldy it does not really matter in this state, if it takes three counts to determine an election that is really being disenfranchised. When it takes a Judge to correct a bad system and the legislators sit on their dead ass everybody is disenfranchise. The State has done nothing to restore the voters confidence in their poorly manage system, and discharge those who do not enforce the policies. If you have one party affiliation your vote counts, if you live in one county you vote counts, and you are a solider over seas your vote does not count. Who does it take to restore the voter confidence in our system, Jimmy Carter over-seeing the operation, and the Cuban’s counting the votes?

  64. 74

    klake spews:

    If a felon needs more punishment, keep him/her in jail and pay your taxes to cover the cost of doing so. If you haven’t extracted your pound of flesh, get over it.

    Commentby Voter Advocate— 3/28/06@ 7:42 am

    Dean Logan you can join the there in the jail. Hell Roger will make sure you have a great bunk mate.

  65. 75

    headless lucy spews:

    All I got to say to you Political Fundamentalist Right-Wing Chriso/Fascists is: “Nyaaaaaaaaahhh!!!!!!!!! I told ya so!!”

  66. 76

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Ignorant fuck @13

    You know, it’s too bad Puddybutt is so lazy/stupid/uninformed that the rest of us have to spend time straightening out his factual misstatements. Butthead sez: “Why is it ASSHeads you love to let criminals go? … female teachers?”

    This is an obvious reference to the Florida case that was in the news last week. The female teacher in question apparently was enamored of a 14-year-old male student, with whom she had sex more than once, and in more than one county. So far, she’s been convicted in at least one jurisdiction. This involved a prosecution in another county.

    The teacher copped a plea. The prosecutor and defense agreed on a sentence. But the judge rejected the plea agreement because he thought the sentence was too lenient. The prosecutor then dropped the charges (knowing the accused already had a conviction on another count which means among other things that she will never teach again) because he didn’t have a case without the boy as a witness, and he couldn’t ask the boy to testify because he was too traumatized by the media attention to appear in court. No witness, no case.

    In other words, the judge in his zeal for a harsher sentence undermined the prosecution’s ability to get a conviction.

    This is exactly the result we would get here in Washington if the grandstanding Republicans in our legislature had gotten their way with our state’s sex offender laws. Locking sex offenders up for life sounds good on a bumper sticker or John Carlson’s show, but prosecutors and cops were against it for a very simple and practical reason: Many sex offenders are family members, and they wouldn’t be able to get victims or witnesses to testify if the penalties were too harsh and inflexible. The GOP bill would have resulted in many sex offenders going scot-free — exactly the opposite of what best serves society’s interests.

  67. 77

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    8

    “Bush … is concerned major changes would lead to a transition time they can’t afford.”

    Since the Bush team is still transitioning into office, it won’t hurt anything.

  68. 80

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    3

    “photo ID constitutes a poll tax”

    If the state doesn’t provide it free to indigents, it would keep them from voting. Why is that so hard to figure out?

  69. 81

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    3

    “can it really be a tax if the fine is part of the punishment for the crime? … without reading the opinion, this seems like a stretch.”

    To understand a court decision, it always helps to read it. This decision has nothing to do with poll tax, it’s about equal protection. Ex-felons are treated unequally in restoring their voting rights. The judge said financial ability to pay fines and/or restitution is not a permissible basis for allowing some ex-felons to vote, while denying that right to others.

  70. 82

    Stev Zemke MajorityRulesBlog spews:

    last year Alabama Republican Party Chairman Marty Connors stated a bald truth: “As frank as I can be,” he said, “we’re opposed to [restoring voting rights] because felons don’t tend to vote Republican.” He is right: People with low incomes, low education or minority status — all benchmarks of convict populations — vote Democratic 65 to 90 percent of the time.

    from the Washington Post 8/18/2004
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....Aug17.html

  71. 84

    David A spews:

    Puddybud:

    To all you libruls: What does making full restitution to society mean? If there is a fine along with jail time and the fine is unpaid, has full restitution been made?

    A “fine” is a criminal penalty and not a “Legal Financial Obligation” The “fine” still has to be satisfied before the penalty portion of a criminal sentence is discharged.

    Most felons are not fined, instead they are sentenced to a term in custody along with a period of post-release supervision. Legal Financial Obligations (LFO) are restitution that represents a monetary loss as a direct result of the crime, and is really a civil matter, not a criminal one. If you want to disenfranchize people for being in a civil debt, then anyone with an outstanding mortgage, credit card debt, bankruptcy would have to be disenfranchised as well.

    As a victim of a unsolved crime (1997) still on the books, this is not a happy day for me. All this ruling means is be a criminal, go to jail and screw paying back the victim(s) for damages. You can vote again! Typical librul decision-making. Aww he/she did 88% of the judges ruling so let them vote again.

    Since you say the crime was unsolved, there is still the possibility that the perpetrator has never been caught for any crime and was already legally able to vote.

    This ruling isn’t a blank check for ex-felons to vote once they have served their criminal penalty. If they are delinquent in their restitution payments, then they shouldn’t be allowed to vote. But as long as they are continuing to pay off their LFOs in a timely manner, and they have satisfied their criminal penalty, then there is no reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

    One of the reasons why there is a recidivism of criminals in this country is because once a person has become a criminal, they are forever treated as such. They are not allowed to make amends with society and redeem themselves.

  72. 85

    Voter Advocate spews:

    It’s good to see this unjust and gratuitous bar to voting overturned.

    If a felon needs more punishment, keep him/her in jail and pay your taxes to cover the cost of doing so. If you haven’t extracted your pound of flesh, get over it.

  73. 86

    Puddybud spews:

    VA: Why have full restitution court decisions if they get all their rights back at 88%? Why make laws and elect judges to make decisions for victims if you all the perp to walk before all is fully restored? Your post is white noise!

  74. 89

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Another GOP position bites the dust! I’ve noticed the goopers support a lot of things that are unconstitutional. Maybe because REPUBLICANS ARE AGAINST THE CONSTITUTION!

  75. 90

    RightEqualStupid spews:

    Well the righties will go nuts on this one. Here are some predictions…

    1) John Carlson will spend his entire show talking about until his butt buddy, Steffy somehow proves it was all Dean Logan’s fault.
    2) Steffy will try to prove it’s all Dean Logan’s fault.
    3) Timmy will see another opportunity to make money from the right wing rube machine so he’ll start another initiative in order to make some bucks.
    4) The GOP will get involved and start screaming because they want as few people as possible voting – PERIOD!

  76. 91

    Puddybud spews:

    To all you libruls: What does making full restitution to society mean? If there is a fine along with jail time and the fine is unpaid, has full restitution been made?

    As a victim of a unsolved crime (1997) still on the books, this is not a happy day for me. All this ruling means is be a criminal, go to jail and screw paying back the victim(s) for damages. You can vote again! Typical librul decision-making. Aww he/she did 88% of the judges ruling so let them vote again.

    Full restitution has nothing, nothing, nothing, to do with politics. This decision does! This decision is just dumb law-making from a librul judge. Your side can’t get people to vote that way so your last chance is to have librul judges decide your way.

  77. 92

    Libertarian spews:

    Here’s a radical take on voting. Why not have you voting power determined by the number of tax dollars paid in federal income taxes? If you pay $1,000 in federal income taxes, you get 1,000 votes.

    Just think – you could disenfaranchise lots and lots of millionaires!

  78. 93

    Puddybud spews:

    More: Why didn’t the criminal and his lawyer protest the original decision? If the fine was so onerus, they could ahve petitioned the court for a lower fine. Again, dumb decision making, writing laws from the librul bench!

    Why is it ASSHeads you love to let criminals go? Islamofascists, natural born killers, boy rapist groups, female teachers?

  79. 94

    Puddybud spews:

    Boeing Bob wrote: “Just for the record, those dead Ravers were not GOP supporters. The back of Capitol Hill is the 37th I think – very rad district, more that the 43rd, which it used to be part of. Cheaper rents, and very queer, and alternate culture area.

    My 14 year old would not be at all night parties. But this one sounded tame. For the les informed, there weekend house parties which go from late till dawn are very common.”

    Thanks Bob.

    For the Clueless “Did you get Bob’s memo? If Bob says they were donks, the killer from Whitefish probably was donk!
    Do zebras hang with gazelle? Do monkeys (oops… libruls) hang with antelope? No herds of like animals live together. Donk herd with donk. Good try to politicize everything you write.

    I have to post this again!

    “From the Internet: “An idiot savant is a person with autism that has extraordinary skills in certain domains in spite of cognitive deficiencies in most others.”

    Idiot savants are considered a group of peeples that are incapable of reading, writing or learning, yet they could be great in music, math, or other activities.

    Well let’s see. FTC has no accurate knowledge in music, math, or other activities. Idiot savants are a subgroup of people called idiots with an IQ around 25. FTC posts psychobabble, or white noise! The jury is still out on his skillz but nothing so far on ASSes have identified what his strengths are. Certainly it is not politics!

    At least the character Dustin Hoffman played was a math genius! But DJ, what did Tom Cruise have to do with his brother? He had to wipe his butt. FTC gets his butt wiped from all of us on the right side of the aisle.”

  80. 95

    spitintheocean spews:

    Let’s not forget the right to carry a hand gun . Just a travesty that folks that commit felonies can not purchase a shooting iron . What were our forefathers thinking when they dienfranchised the ” right to bear arms ” . Finally some real rights for the perpetrators of violence and crime .

  81. 96

    Ken In Seattle spews:

    This seems to be the removal of one part of the “Jim Crow” felons disenfranchisement law. I think the other part makes felons convicted before 1989 permenantly disenfranchised.

    Sam Reed does not have any interest in pushing this to the supremes so unless someone has pictures of him in a compromising position, it will not get to Scalito and friends to overturn.

    Cue ballistic and bombastic wingnuts now….

  82. 97

    BOB from BOEING spews:

    Three Cheers.

    Of course it is a poll tax. If you owne mone as a non felon thee is no connection to voting.

    Why two standards. A few of us aregued tht here months ago, and did not get a lot of support. Of course, right wingers do not care about poll taxes if they are levied on the poor, lefties, homos, and people of color.

    Let’s be honest. All these recent attempt to limit the ballot come from the right.

    Washington is one of the few states with this connection. It was most likely supposed to incread the cons paying off money to the state and thus more revenue enhancement that screw their civil rights.

    I think postage for ballots is a poll tax as well. I am sure someone will litigate that at some time in the future.

    Three cheers – now will see what the Supremes say, and that could be years.

  83. 99

    BOB from BOEING spews:

    Thanks Richard. Such a tragic day.

    Just for the record, those dead Ravers were not GOP supporters. The back of Capitol Hill is the 37th I think – very rad district, more that the 43rd, which it used to be part of. Cheaper rents, and very queer, and alternate culture area.

    My 14 year old would not be at all night parties. But this one sounded tame. For the les informed, there weekend house parties which go from late till dawn are very common.

    Ticket prices to events are high, bars close at 2 am, folks keep going. Have been to hundreds over the years. The buzz at any bar is where is the party about midnight. It is true, bus servide mostly ends at midnight – so a lot of folks do the house thing and catch the first am bus home.

    Stanger coverage of killing on their blog is over all excellent – information not mentioned other places. MSM is lazy.

  84. 100

    Cougar spews:

    Just had to post this again:

    ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST

    Today, the President’s Chief of Staff has resigned, to be replaced by budget director Josh Bolten. So much for Bush not “having an appetite for a staff shakeup”. From an article last week:

    Card has been reaching out to various friends over the past few weeks for ideas on how to help bring the president out of a growing political slump.

    There has been talk for months that Card himself should leave, including reports he could become Secretary of the Treasury. Card has told friends as recently as the past few weeks that he is not interested in moving to the Treasury Department, yet some Republicans outside the White House continue to push the idea.

    Card “doesn’t want [to move to the Treasury Department], wouldn’t take it and isn’t planning on going anywhere,” the White House official told CNN.

    Senior officials and friends of Card said Bush is reluctant to let him leave, saying he is concerned major changes would lead to a transition time they can’t afford. Card is the second-longest serving White House chief of staff.

    http://politicalwire.com/southpaws/

  85. 101

    Richard Pope spews:

    I looked up the victims of the Republican (Street) massacre on Stefan’s voter registration database page. Kyle Huff, the shooter, wasn’t registered to vote. The four adult men who were murdered were all registered to vote in King County. Three of the four had voted in either 2004 or 2005. The oldest victim had registered in King County back in 2000, but had never voted.

  86. 102

    middleoftheroader spews:

    I have never thought about this issue this way. Poll-tax…hmmm. Well, it at least makes more sense to me as a constitutional violation than the arguments that a photo ID constitutes a poll tax. But, can it really be a tax if the fine is part of the punishment for the crime? I can imagine that any interest on top of the original fine(s) or payment for other restitution services might cause problems….but…. without reading the opinion, this seems like a stretch.

  87. 103

    spews:

    I always thought it was weird to deny people the right to vote. I mean, after someone puts their life back together, they should have the franchise, right?

    Goldy, thanks for keeping an eye on this.

  88. 104

    Erik spews:

    Either they did their time or not. I can see not allowing people in jail to vote.

    I always thought that the concept was that when you are released from jail you can try to live like a citizen again.

  89. 105

    (The Real) Mark spews:

    DavidA @ 103

    First, you truly deserve hearty congratulations for doing something that most criminals do not — pay your debt to your victim. However…

    DavidA: “I hate to break it to you, but I am probably the most qualified…”

    Just because you know how to pump gas, doesn’t mean you know how an engine works. I’m talking about the true functioning of the process. Have you read or even followed the legislation? CVC nearly went broke last year. Under its mandate, if it runs out of money, it closes its doors. It collects only a small fraction of the restitution money. End of story.

    DavidA: “Do you know where my resitution check goes to every month? The General Fund.

    Technically — and sadly — that is somewhat correct. But only because the program is being mismanaged (relative to its original design). It ends up in a general “public safety” account instead of being properly earmarked for victims. But hey, federal SocSec money gets “repurposed,” too.

    DavidA: “I am sure that you have made some wrong [choices] yourself sometime. (and don’t blame it on “being young”)”

    Hmmmm… lemme think… never stole… never did drugs… never drank… never hit anyone… I *did* once get a ticket for doing 35 (with traffic flow) in a 25. Does that count?

    Perhaps that is the greater problem — the expectation that people will make BIG mistakes (such that society considers them a crime) and it is shrugged off as something everyone supposedly does. There are plenty of people that come from seriously hellish backgrounds that DON’T commit crimes.

    And if you came from a “privileged” background and still committed a crime… I hope you have to pay five, ten, FIFTY times what your victims lost. And the judge should have literally given you a slap upside the head.

    Tell me… have you ever been the truly innocent VICTIM of an unexpected crime? Do you really understand what you did to those victims… beyond the monetary value of their loss??

    Even if you just stole a f***ing ChapStick from the RiteAid store, that is one more chip in the foundation of a civilized society.

    I once heard a good “test” for whether a person was truly an honorable member of society: Imagine you’re driving a desert highway and you come to a stoplight at an intersection. The light is red. As you approach it, you can see for miles and miles in each direction and there are NO cars to be seen. You know for an absolute FACT that nobody is watching and you could never get caught. Do you run the light? Do you coast through? Do you stop?

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    (The Real) Mark spews:

    [cricket... cricket... cricket...]

    Here’s to hoping Dave is out there busily working to pay off those he vicitimized…