On November 9, 2000, Plaintiffs filed this class action against the State of New York and its State Board of Elections in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Plaintiffs, Black and Latino individuals who had been convicted of felonies under the laws of the state ...
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On November 9, 2000, Plaintiffs filed this class action against the State of New York and its State Board of Elections in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Plaintiffs, Black and Latino individuals who had been convicted of felonies under the laws of the state of New York and were incarcerated in the New York prison system or on parole, claimed that pursuant to New York Election Law § 5-106(2), they were not permitted to vote in state or federal elections, in violation of the New York Constitution.
Plaintiffs, represented by public interest and private attorneys, alleged that the state provisions denied suffrage to incarcerated and paroled felons on account of their race in violation of the United States Constitution, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and customary international law. They cited the fact that Blacks and Latinos comprised nearly 87% of those currently denied the right to vote pursuant to § 5-106(2). Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief enjoining defendants from implementing and enforcing § 5-106(2).
On July 10, 2003, the Defendants moved for a judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(c). In an order filed on June 14, 2004, the Southern District of New York (Judge Lawrence M. McKenna) granted the motion. The court found that the Plaintiffs' complaint did not sufficiently allege that § 5-106(2) was motivated by a discriminatory intent and dismissed all constitutional and statutory claims.
The Plaintiffs appealed this decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In an en banc decision, the Second Circuit held that the Voting Rights Act of 1965 did not encompass prisoner disenfranchisement provisions because (a) Congress did not intend the Voting Rights Act to cover such provisions; and (b) Congress made no clear statement of intent to modify the federal balance by applying the Voting Rights Act to these provisions. On May 4, 2006 the Court of Appeals dismissed the Plaintiffs' claims challenging New York Election Law § 5-106, affirmed the judgment of the district court, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings consistent with the opinion.
In a per curiam opinion, filed on June 1, 2006, the Second Circuit clarified the ruling of its May 4, 2006 opinion, explaining that the case was to be remanded to the District Court to address the issue of whether the plaintiffs-appellants properly stated a vote dilution claim based on New York's apportionment process, and, if so, to rule on the merits of that claim. On August 4, 2006, the District Court found that no further proceedings in the District Court were required, and that the case in the District Court need not be reopened.David Priddy - 07/19/2011