NEW ORLEANS -- The Latest on court case seeking to restore voting rights to Mississippi felons (all times local):
A key advocate for restoring voting rights to felons in Mississippi says he’s fighting to restore his rights as a “human being.”
Dennis Hopkins spoke after judges at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans heard arguments in a case brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP on behalf of six felons including Hopkins.
In Mississippi, people convicted of 22 felonies permanently lose the right to vote. They can have their rights restored only by getting a bill passed just for them with two-thirds approval by the Legislature or getting a pardon from the governor.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say Mississippi is one of only three states that permanently bars felons from voting.
A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments on whether Mississippi laws that restrict the voting rights of certain felons are unconstitutional.
Former convicted felons affected by the state’s laws are pushing to have their voting rights restored.
The Mississippi Constitution strips people convicted of 10 felonies of the right to vote. Those crimes include murder, forgery and bigamy, and the list was later expanded to 22, including crimes such as timber larceny and carjacking.
Those people can get their voting rights restored but only by going through a process of getting individual bills passed just for them with two-thirds approval by the Legislature or getting a pardon from the governor.
The plaintiffs argue the laws were enacted in 1890 as a way to disenfranchise black voters.