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The United States Constitution has no provision guaranteeing the right of every citizen to vote.  In the days of the founding fathers, of course, voting was essentially restricted to the property-owning elite, but all legislation on the subject since those days has been about the expansion of voting rights.  Jump below the squiggly thingy for more.

Until recently, anyway.  Ever since Paul Weyrich's infamous Goo-Goo syndrome speech (http://crooksandliars.com/...) the Right has concluded that they're better off when turnout is minimized.  And so, with the help (or perhaps more accurately, at the urging) of the fascist American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), Republican't-controlled states have been passing laws that are clearly designed to keep some citizens away from the polls.

One thing I find amazing is how many states have decided to move ahead with such legislation just this year, with the presidential race looming.  One might think that, in the interest of fairness (HAH! - when has THAT been a concern of the Right?), such bills should have either been introduced a couple of years ago, or should not take immediate effect, to allow people the necessary time (at least a year, if not longer) to obtain the required documentation.  But, I digress ...

The Citizen's United ruling by SCOTUS has many talking about a Constitutional Amendment to cement into law what many of us consider patently obvious - i. e., that corporations are NOT people, and that money is NOT speech.  Perhaps while we're at it, we might want to add a provision plainly stating that ALL citizens have a Constitutionally-protected and inalienable right to vote.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

    by mstaggerlee on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 07:45:03 AM PDT

  •  The Fifteenth Amendment (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dsb, rmx2630, HudsonValleyMark

    guaranteesthat the "right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged" due to race or prior servitude.  The Nineteenth uses similar language to guarantee that women can vote.

    Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
    ¡Boycott Arizona!

    by litho on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 07:56:50 AM PDT

    •  False equivalence. (5+ / 0-)

      The promise to not abridge a right, for one reason or another, isn't the same thing as a guarantee that we ALL have that right in the first place.  

      OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

      by mstaggerlee on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 08:10:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, yes and no. (3+ / 0-)

        The promise not to abridge a right assumes the right exists . . . but still, it's up to the states to determine exactly what that right means.

      •  No, in fact it is an exact equivalence (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        litho

        under equal protection jurisprudence, (See Reynolds v Sims 1964 and subsequent cases) voting is a "fundamental right" under the fourteenth amendment which means that infringing on that right is subject to strict judicial scrutiny, because ""the right to exercise franchise in a free and unimpaired manner is preservative of other basic civil and political rights."

        So, to answer the diarists question, the constitution DOES protect the right to vote, actually.

        Never believe your own press, never drink your own KoolAid

        by Mindful Nature on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:54:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Reynolds v Sims ... (0+ / 0-)

          ... was about redistricting, and the relative size of state Senate districts, and whether or not districts of very different sizes is de facto discrimination against the citizens in the larger districts.  It was about the one man/one vote doctrine, NOT about EVERY man getting to vote.

          OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

          by mstaggerlee on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 12:03:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Because the Constitution addresses the (3+ / 0-)

    behavior of agents of government.

    Imagine it as comparable to a cook book.  The recipes are for the cooks, not the diner.

    It is not possible for a recipe book to guarantee anything. The quality of an agent of government, as of a cook, is in the doing. The reason we have frequent elections is to evaluate the doing and get rid of those who don't measure up.

    That agents of government are presuming to determine who hires and fires them is an outrage.
    Our legislators are being insubordinate and need to be removed.

    The original Constitution also deprived some persons of all human rights. That slavery is no longer legal is progress; that DADT has been rescinded is progress. If the human rights of children were to be recognized, that would be progress. As it stands now, parents own them and may delegate their beating under the law.

    We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 08:01:00 AM PDT

    •  I'm afriad I don't see your point. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HudsonValleyMark

      Are you saying that the Constitution should not (or CAN not) guarantee voting rights for all?

      OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

      by mstaggerlee on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 08:13:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The difference is... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HudsonValleyMark

        outlined here. Basically, our constitution is one of negative rights, where it restricts the ability of our government from infringement. Positive rights, on the other hand, affirmatively state the rights a person has and that, implicitly, the government has an affirmative duty to protect those rights.

        Take for example free speech. In our constitution, the government is bound from enacting legislation that restricts speech. Should another (non-governmental) organization place restrictions on your speech, such as if you worked for the NFL and were forbidden from speaking out about scab referees, you have no recourse (other than to resign). On the other hand, if the constitution affirmatively declared that all persons have an inalienable right to free speech, you could, in theory, sue to enjoin the organization from imposing penalties on your speech.

        •  Well, but the organization can only be sued (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          HudsonValleyMark

          because it is an artificial body whose creation was authorized by the state. If we want states to take more care in defining what the obligations and duties of private corporations are, we have to elect legislators who are willing to do that -- to regulate private corporations, instead of the uteri of women, for example. The latter is entirely inappropriate.  But, if we don't want such people in office, we need to un-select them.

          We organize governments to provide benefits and prevent abuse.

          by hannah on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 08:41:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Could not agree more (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HudsonValleyMark

            and the first step would be to make sure such organizations are not considered "people." It is the courts and their reading of law, supreme of which is the constitution, that allows such abuses of corporate power. We do not have an "affirmative rights" constitution, but if we can enact an amendment that declares corporations as non-persons, such regulation (legislatively-enacted affirmative rights) would be effective despite a conservative judiciary.

      •  the Constitution (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HudsonValleyMark

        by and large doesn't tell people what to do.   We make the Constitution, the supreme law, that our government is to follow, in theory at least.  Hence the great big lettering "WE THE PEOPLE" that start the Constitution's preamble. We set the limits of what governments can or cannot do, some rules are for the federal government, some are for state governments some are for both.

        Election process is delegated to the states, they have the right to run elections.  Most rules are then based on state laws.  The Constitution forbids them to pass any law abridging the  rights of citizens to vote, specifically increasing the rights for persons of color, former servitude, women, etc.  Further the constitution does guarantee that the states will be representative governements, meaning elected, hence some basic right to vote is guaranteed at the state level.   Hence, governments are cooks.  They take the broad rules of the cookbook, add some rules of their own (laws and regulations addressing issues), and produce the meal,  the complete regulatory system of Constitutional provisions, statutes and regulations, plus some case law.  Part of the that system addresses what governments can do, part of that system adresses what people can do.

        The courts have long said that the right to vote is sacred, that any law or regulation that infringes on the right to vote is to be reviewed with the most scrutiny a court can bring to a review of a law.  As the Pennsylvania voter id case recently set out the standard, the trial court must decide not a single person will be deprived of the right to vote by the way the law is implemented, and the burden is on the Pennsylvania state government to show that.

  •  15th amendment (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    phonegery, Mindful Nature
    "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
    There is a lot missing of course (ERA, anybody?) but the fact that the Constitution at one time restricted voting to property owners does not mean that it does so now.    This is where people get off track with the idea of original interpretation since it is a living document and of course later amendments change what the authors may have intended.
  •  your answer, in two words: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    penguins4peace, HudsonValleyMark

    states' rights.

    The Founding Fathers left the matter up to the states, and except for a couple of Band-Aid® solutions in the form of constitutional amendments -- and of course the supposedly one-off ruling in Bush v. Gore -- there it has remained.

    •  The states would still have control ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HudsonValleyMark

      ... over most of the electoral mechanics and procedures.  But the 1965 Voting Rights act allowed the federal gov't to review such processes in the "Jim Crow" states, so there's precedent for federal expansion of voting rights beyond what an individual state may, or may not, "want".

      OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

      by mstaggerlee on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 08:36:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's what I call (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HudsonValleyMark

        a Band-Aid® solution.  

        •  or maybe even an off-brand bandage solution ;) (0+ / 0-)

          Constitutional amendments are relatively "sticky." Federal legal requirements somewhat less so, even those that don't have built-in expiration dates.

          FWIW, I think the "real" main question of the diary is, "Shouldn't the Constitution be amended to protect the right to vote?"

          Election protection: there's an app for that!
          Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

          by HudsonValleyMark on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:42:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  re: your last paragraph: (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            HudsonValleyMark

            Yes, and yes.  But amendment is unlikely, and an even better solution -- a better Constitution -- is one I wouldn't wish on the country even if I despised it, seeing as any possible Convention would be dominated by Big Money.

            •  Constitutional amendments don't always require... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              HudsonValleyMark

              ... a convention.  To my recollection, it was less than a year from the proposal that the voting age be reduced from 21 to 18 years (thanx and a tip of the hat to Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction"!), and the ratification of the amendment, and I don't recall a convention on the amendment.

              OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

              by mstaggerlee on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 12:22:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Not what I meant. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                HudsonValleyMark

                By "convention" I was referring to the pie-in-the-sky talk about convening a convention to replace the current constitution with a new one.  

                •  YIKES!! (0+ / 0-)

                  Must agree, there ... wouldn't want to convene a Constitutional Convention in the current environment.  If you think DC is dysfunctional NOW ...

                  OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

                  by mstaggerlee on Fri Sep 28, 2012 at 07:47:10 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  and then there's the ERA (0+ / 0-)

                which initially moved very rapidly (starting with huge bipartisan supermajorities in Congress), and then stalled out. I'm not suggesting that this proves anything; it's just an interesting data point.

                It's pretty easy to imagine some of the arguments against a Voting Rights Amendment, but I'm curious which ones Republican members would actually use on the floor, if it came to that. As things stand, it wouldn't, but eventually it could.

                Election protection: there's an app for that!
                Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

                by HudsonValleyMark on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 02:12:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

  •  Two points: (0+ / 0-)

    1.  No one has a federal right to vote for President.  That right is reserved to the states.  The states have all, as of now, said that they will exercise that right by way of a state-wide election.  

    2.  The Fifteenth Amendment guarantees that the right to vote will not be abridged or denied due to color.  That is a grant of right to minorities.  The Nineteenth Amendment guarantees that the right to vote will not be abridged or denied due to sex.  That is a grant of right to women.

    In general, the right to vote is not a federal right, it is a state right.

  •  T&R for discussion (0+ / 0-)

    Great question (although maybe it could have been worded differently), and thoughtful comments. Except maybe for this one, although I really did think about it....

    Election protection: there's an app for that!
    Better Know Your Voting System with the Verifier!

    by HudsonValleyMark on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:48:07 AM PDT

    •  I'm beginning to see ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HudsonValleyMark

      ... that I chose the title of this, my very first DKOS diary, somewhat poorly.

      It appears that many commenters have a problem with the use of the word "protected" in the title.  Indeed, the Constitution DOES protect the right to vote - for those that the states choose to ALLOW to do so.

      Perhaps a better title would have been "Why doesn't the US Constitution guarantee EVERY citizen the right to vote?".

      OF COURSE the New Right is wrong - but that doesn't make WRONG the new RIGHT!

      by mstaggerlee on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 12:15:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Um, it DOES protect the right to vote (0+ / 0-)

    Efforts by the states to limit such rights have repeatedly been overturned on equal protection grounds (See amendments 5 and 14).  

    Never believe your own press, never drink your own KoolAid

    by Mindful Nature on Wed Sep 26, 2012 at 09:56:18 AM PDT

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