Recently, Sharon Browne and Roger Clegg of the Los Angeles Times argued that discriminatory laws are constitutional under the 15th Amendment if "there is no ... discriminatory intent," no matter what the actual effect of those laws.
Thus, they say, laws denying convicted felons the right to vote for their entire lives are not discriminatory — even if the conviction is reversed — although by vastly disproportionate numbers, such laws deny only African-Americans and Native Americans the right to vote.
This article says such discrimination is legal despite the words of the 15th Amendment, which say, "The right of citizens ... to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race."
The authors' own bias is revealed when they argue no intentional discrimination enters into the passage of such laws. Obviously, they are unable to cite supportive data to this effect.
Let's consider the general principle that the intent of a law is all we should consider in judging that law, no matter what its actual effect.
Less than 100 years ago, the intent of the law was to elect the best people to office. Yet one of the effects of this principle across the nation was to deny women the right to vote. Applying this same intent less than 200 years ago, the entire minority Indian and black populations of the country were denied the right to vote.
The effect of the discriminatory felony law is precisely the same as these earlier bigoted laws, no matter what benign intent advocates may claim. It's time such racist prejudicial practices are ended once and for all.
Lest one feel that the felony-voter statutes have no significant effect on elections, consider that most experts feel the Florida vote in the Al Gore-George Bush election would have gone to Gore except for the onerous effects of the felony-voter laws in Florida. Thus Gore would have avoided the gratuitous, unlawful war in Iraq. And by concentrating our efforts in Afghanistan, we would have long-since prevailed in that war.