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Washington State: federal court dismisses felon voting rights case

A lawyer in the case emails me: Thursday afternoon the Eastern District of Washington (Judge Robert H. Whaley) issued the attached adverse ruling in favor of Defendants in Farrakhan v. Gregoire, our challenge to Washington State's racially discriminatory felon disfranchisement regime. The Court, on Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment, granted Defendants' Motion, thereby dismissing the case in its entirety.

Needless to say, we are extremely disappointed by this decision on its merits, particularly because the Court found that Plaintiffs presented "compelling evidence of racial discrimination and bias in Washington's criminal justice system," and that such discrimination "clearly hinder[s] the ability of racial minorities to participate effectively in the political process."

Though the Court concluded that it "has no doubt that members of racial minorities have experienced discrimination in Washington's criminal justice system," it held that "[o]ther factors, particularly Washington's history, or lack thereof, of racial bias in its electoral process and in its decision to enact the felon disenfranchisement provisions, counterbalance the contemporary discriminatory effects that result from the day-to-day functioning of Washington's criminal justice system."

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