What part of the phrase ‘all men are created equal’ allows State governments the right to disenfranchise some of its voters?
The answer is technical and disturbing. The phrase was written into the Declaration of Independence which essentially laid out the guiding principles of our government. The facts of the law, according to the Unites States Supreme Court, are written in the Constitution. The implication is obvious. Apparently, the Founders decided over the few years between the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the adoption of the Constitution that the principles laid out in our founding document should be discarded.
But that is not the case for two reasons. First the Constitution does not specifically state that the disenfranchisement of some of the voters is unconstitutional. Secondly, no one that approved adoption of the Constitution ever stated that it should follow the principles laid out in the Declaration of Independence. It is implied, but not stated. Implied does not create law.
The evolution of the interpretation of the law has been twisted and bastardized for over two centuries. Moral guideposts are at the discretion of the better angels or darker angels of government.
Our forefathers fought to defend our representative democracy. As we examine the Democracy Index we find that one of the main yardsticks used measure ‘full democracy’ is free and fair elections. All forms of voter suppression moves our country down on the yardstick that measures ‘full democracy’.
We have a choice. We can let the forces that persist in disenfranchising voters continue to harm basic democratic principles. Or we can pass a Constitutional amendment that bans all forms of voter suppression. Our Founders had the right idea but did not cement the idea into the Constitution. It’s time to put those guiding principles into law.