Yesterday, the Minnesota Supreme Court granted accelerated review of the Upper Midwest Law Center’s (UMLC) challenge to the 2023 Felon Voting Law. The decision to expedite the review comes in response to the petition filed by UMLC and Petitioners Minnesota Voters Alliance, Mary Amlaw, Ken Wendling, and Tim Kirk, challenging the Anoka County District Court’s decision on December 13, 2023.
The newly passed law, a subject of considerable debate and legal scrutiny, raises constitutional questions that demand prompt resolution. UMLC and the Petitioners argued that a conventional appellate process, even if expedited, could extend uncertainty surrounding the law, potentially impacting the upcoming election season.
This accelerated review is crucial, especially in light of the Minnesota Court’s 2023 Schroeder v. Simon decision, where the Court limited itself to resolving if Article VII, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution “requires that persons convicted of a felony be restored to the right to vote upon being released or excused from incarceration.” The Court did not reach a definitive ruling on what “restored to civil rights” means in the Constitution, or whether restoring “the civil right to vote” satisfies that constitutional requirement. The Court will now reach these crucial issues.
James Dickey, UMLC Senior Counsel, emphasized the significance of this accelerated review, stating, “We believe the Minnesota Constitution requires restoration of a felon’s civil rights lost upon sentencing in order to restore the right to vote. The Legislature failed to do that by passing the Felon Voting Law. But this decision to grant accelerated review is particularly wise because, regardless of the Court’s answer, Minnesota will have an answer prior to the 2024 election. The people of Minnesota deserve total clarity on voter eligibility before the 2024 election, and we are pleased that the Supreme Court has recognized the urgency of this matter.”
This decision marks a crucial step forward in UMLC’s pursuit of election integrity. The organization remains committed to upholding the principles enshrined in the state’s constitution and ensuring a fair and transparent electoral process.
Oral arguments for this case will take place on April 1, 2024. Click here to view the granted petition for review.