OLYMPIA - Attorney General Rob McKenna will personally present the state’s arguments next Tuesday in Madison v. State of Washington. It will be his first argument as attorney general before the Washington Supreme Court.
The state seeks to overturn King County Superior Court Judge Michael Spearman’s ruling that Washington’s current felon disenfranchisement law is unconstitutional because it requires felons to complete all the terms of their sentences– including payment of financial obligations such as crime victims' restitution– before they regain their right to vote.
McKenna will argue that, under the U.S. Constitution and the Washington State Constitution, each state may disenfranchise felons and each may establish its own criteria for disenfranchisement and re-enfranchisement that requires felons to complete the terms of their sentences.
“Washington state law requires that convicted felons comply with all court-imposed sentencing requirements, including paying restitution to crime victims, before the felon may be re-enfranchised,” McKenna said.
The state will argue that under the ‘rational basis test’ which the U.S. Supreme Court applies to felon disenfranchisement statutes, it is rational for the Legislature to deny felons the right to vote until they have completed their entire court-ordered sentences.
“That includes payment of criminal penalties, victim's restitution, and legal fees,” McKenna said. “The state should not be required to separate out the various aspects of a criminal sentence.”
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear Madison v. State of Washington at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27. Both sides are scheduled to present their cases for 30 minutes. TVW will cover the arguments live.
Contact: Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725