Five Fifth Circuit Judges Cite Professor Chin's Article in Dissent
In Harness v. Watson, a divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit sitting en banc recently upheld the Mississippi constitution's post-Civil War criminal disenfranchisement provision. The principal dissent, for five judges, cited Professor Gabriel "Jack" Chin's 2004 University of Cincinnati Law Review article contending that the provision violated the equal protection clause because it was intended to disenfranchise African Americans, and had that effect both when it became law in 1890 and now.
"The Fifth Circuit majority held that the reenactment of the provision in 1968 cleansed it of its racial animus," Chin said, but "I don't think that argument works, if for no other reason than the people unconstitutionally disenfranchised had no part in lawmaking in 1968. Moreover, in 1968, Mississippi had hardly embraced the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and other civil rights reforms."
Professor Eric Fish has also written in this area; his article contending that criminal immigration provisions were intended to discriminate on the basis of race has been cited in several court opinions.
Gabriel "Jack" Chin is Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Law and holder of the Edward L. Barrett Jr. Endowed Chair at UC Davis School of Law. He is a prolific and much-cited criminal and immigration law scholar whose work has addressed many of the most pressing social issues of our time.