JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A federal appeals court is considering a lawsuit that seeks to overturn Mississippi’s ban on voting rights for people convicted of some felonies. The case was heard Wednesday at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It could affect thousands of people.
Attorneys challenging the ban say the original list of disenfranchising crimes was put into the 1890 Mississippi Constitution because drafters thought those crimes were disproportionately committed by Black people. State attorneys say Mississippi made changes in 1950 and 1968 that removed the discriminatory intent. Voting rights for former felons can be restored on an individual basis — either by a governor’s pardon or by approval from two-thirds of legislators.