March 10, 2005

A PRIVILEGE, NOT A RIGHT:

Misdemeanor Nation vs. Felony Nation (Douglas Kern, 03/09/2005 , Tech Central Station)

In the world where the enfranchisement of felons seems like a good idea, no crime is ever really that bad. No sin can ever disqualify a man from full civic participation. A little time in the hoosegow squares all accounts. Felons are decent people just like you and me; they made mistakes, they paid for their mistakes, and they're ready to resume their lives. Only a churl or a prudish killjoy would deprive these poor souls of their rights, merely on account of their prior actions.

This is Misdemeanor Nation.

A misdemeanor is a less serious kind of crime. It can entail some consequences -- a fine, community service, jail time -- but nothing life-changing; nothing that signifies a permanent rupture between a citizen and the state. There are no permanent ruptures in Misdemeanor Nation. In fact, there is no permanent anything in Misdemeanor Nation.

In Misdemeanor Nation, criminals need to vote in order to be rehabilitated. To deprive them of that right would be cruel and unusual punishment, and thus unconstitutional. Admittedly, the proof for that contention is wanting, but if we leave Anthony Kennedy alone with the Uruguayan Constitution and the annotated case law of Sierra Leone, he'll come up with a rationalization.

In Misdemeanor Nation, the vote is an inalienable right. You don't need virtue to vote. You don't need to obey the rules of society to vote. If you have a pulse and an eighteenth birthday, you get to vote.

I come from Felony Nation. I come from a place where the right to vote is a presumption that intolerable behavior can rebut.


And we come from Declaration Nation, where there is no "right" to vote.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 10, 2005 12:00 AM
Comments

If there is no right to vote, then we are not a democracy, nor are we a republic. That is a silly statement.

Posted by: Brandon at March 10, 2005 11:59 AM

Of course, there is a right to vote. However, like any other right it can be taken away after due process of law.

Posted by: Bart at March 11, 2005 10:08 AM

Bart:

Where?

Posted by: oj at March 11, 2005 10:15 AM
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