[Eugene Volokh] Why Can Felons Be Denied the Right to Vote?

Occasionally, people ask about the constitutional basis for denying felons the right to vote (set aside here the policy arguments about that). There's a good answer to that, I think First, note that the Constitution never secures a right to vote, the way it secures a right to free speech or a right to keep and bear arms. It leaves the matter to each state, and provides that, even in federal elections, who may vote shall be determined by whom each state allows to vote in state elections. Of course, various amendments have barred the government from discriminating based on race, sex, payment of poll tax, and age (over 18); but no constitutional text goes beyond that. The Supreme Court has interpreted the Equal Protection Clause, in section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, as generally requiring "strict scrutiny" of laws that discriminate in voting (including when they use criteria that would be allowed in other contexts). But right there in section 2 of the…

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