Fighting for rights restoration: CSI v. Moore

In November 2019, Protect Democracy, Forward Justice, and Arnold & Porter initiated a lawsuit on behalf of six individuals and several nonprofit organizations to restore voting rights for those with prior felony convictions. These organizations — Community Success Initiative, Justice Served NC, Inc., the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP, and Wash Away Unemployment — work to re-enfranchise citizens denied the right to vote under North Carolina’s felony disenfranchisement law.

The right to vote is fundamental to our democracy, but for too long people with prior felony convictions have been denied that right. North Carolinians who are convicted of a felony lose their right to vote not only during any period of incarceration, but also throughout the duration of their probation and post-release supervision periods — stripping away their right to fully participate in our democracy, including their ability to have a voice in policy decisions that affect their daily lives.

On March 28, 2022, a three-judge panel ruled in our favor, unlocking the right to vote for over 55,000 North Carolinians who are on probation, parole, and post-release supervision. The panel majority held that the State’s felony disenfranchisement law violates the state Constitution’s Equal Protection and Free Elections Clauses. 

On April 28th, 2023, the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed the three-judge panel decision and stripped voting rights away from thousands of North Carolinians with prior convictions, disproportionately impacting African Americans who had their right to cast a ballot restored for approximately 276 days. Writing in the dissent, Justice Anita Earls explained that “[t]he majority’s decision in this case will one day be repudiated on two grounds. First, because it seeks to justify the denial of a basic human right to citizens and thereby perpetuates a vestige of slavery, and second, because the majority violates a basic tenant of appellate review by ignoring the facts as found by the trial court and substituting its own.”

Case documents

Featured Press

Thousands of felons in North Carolina can now register and vote

CBS News, July 27, 2022
Tens of thousands of people serving punishments for felony convictions in North Carolina but who aren’t behind bars can now register to vote and cast ballots following an appeals court ruling.

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