Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

On Tuesday the 9th Circuit ruled to restore voting rights to felons on a finding of racial discrimination in Washington’s criminal justice system. The decision garnered editorial attention all across the state, and even an entry in The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog.

 The News Tribune opined:

Suffice it to say that many perfectly competent federal judges have not read the law the way the 9th Circuit panel did. As the dissenting 9th Circuit judge said, his court is “a crowd of one amongst the circuits.”

The Tri-City Herald recommends that the Supreme Court, “toss out this buzzard's egg or mark it "return to sender" with a note to think it through again.” They add: “It doesn't seem to have gotten much thought the first time.”

Members of the Seattle Times editorial board weighed the  pros and cons on their Ed Cetera page.
Bruce Ramsey:

The two judges who made this ruling, Wallace Tashima and Stephen Reinhardt, argued that the higher percentage of African Americans in prison than of whites is on account of racial discrimination, and that therefore the voting restriction is racially discriminatory to them. ... Either their imprisonment is legitimate or it is not--and if it is, surely the state may take away their vote.

Lynne Varner responded:

The 9th Circuit isn't giving a thumbs down to punishing felons. I think the justices, and I would agree, believe the punishment must be fair and free of racial bias.

For more information, take a look at AG McKenna’s statement on the 9th Circuit’s ruling.


Helen Gaia Thomas