Thinking Things Through

This young man is AOC's chief of staff.

He's arguing that felons should have voting rights, even while in prison. His first argument was "What's the reason NOT to let incarcerated people vote? Shouldn't the people most affected by unjust laws have some say in electing people to change them?" That's a bit hasty, since you would need first to establish the injustice of the laws. If the laws are unjust, then people imprisoned for violating them should be pardoned, and the laws repealed. Are all laws unjust? Hm, I like that idea; I'm not sure if it holds up to serious analysis, but it sounds good.

So his second argument (top link in this post) is that the Constitution speaks of voting rights similarly to the right to keep and bear arms, i.e., 'in terms of not being abridged.' Well, yes, except:

1) All of those references are conditioned to limiting specific infringements, e.g., 'not on the account of sex; not on the account of race.' The implication is that other sorts of infringement are acceptable. In terms of setting the voting age at 18, for example, the amendment explicitly says that you cannot abridge the right to vote on account of age for those who have reached the age of 18; but that is, itself, an abridgment on the account of age for those under 18.

The 2nd Amendment is not conditional: "The right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

2) As many commentators pointed out, taking this argument seriously would mean that even felons could not be disarmed while in prison. The 2nd Amendment is even more categorical than any of the voting rights amendments, so insofar as there's a parallel case for felons, you'd have to let them keep guns with them while they were in the Federal pen.

That's a more absolutist position on the 2A than I've ever advocated, but now that they've raised it... hey, you know, maybe I could go along with that too! Perhaps I've misjudged these young folks, with their bold ideas for repealing all laws and ensuring that no one is ever disarmed by the state.


E Hines said...

Unfortunately, Chakrabarti, seemingly copying the Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, has misunderstood the nature of the social compact, and the Lockean nature of our American social compact.

Certainly, all American citizens ought to be able to vote in American elections. However, felons, by dint of their voluntarily done criminal acts, have placed themselves outside the bounds of our social compact—they've made themselves outlaws in several senses of that term. As felons under the terms of our social compact (Locke's terms went a bit farther), these persons have surrendered a number of their citizen rights: freedom of movement, of keeping/bearing weapons, of association, of communication, and from search and seizure, among others. Felons still can do many of these things, but they are severely restricted in the doing (and in some, completely barred) by the requirements of law and the strictures of the prison in which they're held as those requirements are executed.

Since felons are outlaws, also, though, they've surrendered one more right of citizenship: the right to vote.

It seems Chakrabarti (and Sanders, and others of the Progressive-Democratic Party) seem not to have had much of a civics education.

Eric Hines

Assistant Village Idiot said...

You went wrong at "Thinking it through." This has no bearing on the opinions of most Democrats.
Does it sound cool?
Are there more votes there?
Does it give us a platform to paint our opponents as evil?
Does it make me feel virtuous?

ymarsakar said...

Humans coming up with all kinds ofcrazy now.

No matter how crazy my world looked to Grim and others here... your world is quite.... far Beyond that.