Rand Paul: To the left of Eric Holder on felon enfranchisement

I wrote here about Rand Paul’s unconstitutional plan to propose federal legislation that would enfranchise some felons. Now, Sen. Paul has addressed the constitutional issue posed by such legislation.

He argues, in essence, that states decide who votes in state elections, but the federal government has the final say on who can vote in federal elections. Roger Clegg makes short work of Paul’s contention:

The U.S. Constitution itself explicitly gives the authority to decide who votes in federal elections to the states (consistent, of course, with other constitutional guarantees, like the prohibition of poll taxes). And the recent Supreme Court decision that he cites to the contrary — last year’s decision invalidating part of an Arizona voting law – … rebuts Senator Paul’s position. See, in particular, the first two paragraphs of part III of Justice Scalia’s opinion.

Clegg goes on to point out that Paul’s position on the constitutionality of federal legislation to decide who votes in federal elections is so off-base that even Attorney General Holder, who is desperate to swell the voter lists with felons, does not embrace it. When he called for felon enfranchisement, Holder limited his plea to the states and did not call for federal legislation.

Thus, Clegg’s concluding question is a fair one: “does Senator Paul take the Constitution less seriously than Eric Holder?”

Responses