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Fair Elections Center Statement on Supreme Court’s Decision to Deny Review of Kentucky Arbitrary Voting Rights Restoration Lawsuit


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 20, 2024

Contact: media@fairelectionscenter.org

Jon Sherman, Litigation Director at Fair Elections Center and lead counsel for plaintiffs in Aleman v. Beshear, a lawsuit challenging Kentucky’s arbitrary system for restoring voting rights to Kentuckians convicted of felonies, issued the following statement in response to today’s U.S. Supreme Court order denying a petition for certiorari to review the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in the case:

“For more than 80 years, the Supreme Court has upheld the principle that government officials should not have absolute power over who can engage in political expression. Voting is the height of political expression. This decision will allow governors in Kentucky and other states around the country to continue to personally pick and choose whose voting rights are restored based on applicants’ political beliefs or party affiliations. Hundreds of thousands of Kentuckians will continue to see their voting rights restoration applications subjected to a black-box process.


“Disenfranchised Kentuckians and their allies will continue to fight for a fair and objective system for voting rights restoration. Right now, there are proposed amendments to the Kentucky Constitution before the state legislature that would end arbitrary restoration for most Kentuckians with felony convictions. Given the courts have failed to rectify this unjust situation, a constitutional amendment is the last best hope for a fair restoration system in Kentucky.”


Under the current system, Kentuckians who have been disenfranchised due to past felony convictions must individually petition the governor to regain their voting rights. Fair Elections Center and Kentucky Equal Justice Center filed this lawsuit in 2019 on behalf of all Kentuckians excluded from Governor Beshear’s immediate restoration process, including all Kentuckians with out-of-state or federal convictions. The suit argued that without any rules and criteria, applicants seeking restoration are subject to arbitrary decision-making and the risk of biased treatment, violating the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.


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Fair Elections Center is a national, nonpartisan voting rights and election reform organization based in Washington, D.C. using litigation, public education and advocacy to remove barriers to registration and voting, particularly those disenfranchising underrepresented and marginalized communities.

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