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SPLC, Co-Counsel Statements on Mississippi Voter Re-Enfranchisement Case

JACKSON, Miss. – On Wednesday, August 7, 2019, the United States District Court Southern District of Mississippi issued a ruling in Hopkins v. Hosemann. The Southern Poverty Law Center, along with the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP, filed this case in March 2018 challenging Mississippi’s lifetime voting ban for people with disqualifying felony convictions who have completed their sentences, as well as Mississippi’s arbitrary legislative process for the restoration of voting rights. More than 68 percent of Mississippians support ending the lifetime voting ban, according to a December 2018 poll conducted by Tulchin Research.
Statement of Paloma Wu, senior staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center:
“More than a century ago, Mississippi adopted a state constitution that was specifically intended to prevent freed Black people and their descendants from gaining political influence, in part by blocking their access to the ballot box. Mississippians impacted by the state’s unjust and outdated lifetime voting ban and its arbitrary legislative process for the restoration of voting rights should be encouraged by the Court’s ruling, which found that our Plaintiff class had standing to challenge them. Our clients are eager to move forward—to appeal our claims and to proceed on the critical discriminatory intent claim the Court ruled should proceed to trial.
“The origins of our state’s lifetime voting ban for people with past, disqualifying felony convictions is rooted in racial discrimination and strips returning citizens who have paid their debt to society of their voice in our democratic process. Our clients look forward to their day in court where we will argue that the current process for re-enfranchisement is racially discriminatory.”
Statement of Jonathan Youngwood with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP:
“We are pleased that this case is moving forward, and that the court has both given us an avenue to seek an appeal in the Fifth Circuit and preserved a very important claim for trial. The right to vote is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy.  This case concerns important issues that directly affect the rights and lives of tens of thousands of Mississippi citizens who have paid their debt to society and should be welcome as full members of their communities.”