Minnesota Supreme Court hears arguments in felon voting case

MN Supreme Court hears arguments in voting rights case

MN Supreme Court hears arguments in voting rights case

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Monday heard arguments in a lawsuit about whether to uphold voting rights for 55,000 felons, a key ruling ahead of the 2024 general election.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota urged the court to preserve voting rights for people who already have voted in primaries and elections for nearly a year.

Meanwhile, the conservative group Minnesota Voters Alliance is asking the court to rule that a law passed last year that restores felons’ right to vote when they leave prison is unconstitutional.

RELATED: Group files lawsuit seeking to reverse Minnesota law that restores voting rights to some felons

As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, Gov. Tim Walz signed the law last March.

The bill is written as an exception to the state’s constitution, which states that a felon cannot vote unless “restored to civil rights.”

RELATED: New state law means those with felony records can vote as soon as they’re released from prison

Prior rulings by lower courts didn’t make a final judgment on that core constitutional question.

However, the ACLU attorneys intervened in the lawsuit on behalf of two people who say they fought for years to regain the right to vote and were among the first in the state to register when voting became legal for them last year.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke to Antonio Williams, from St. Paul, last November before that election.

RELATED: Formerly incarcerated Minnesotans preparing to vote for the first time

Williams, who was released from prison in 2020 after serving a 13-year sentence on aiding and abetting homicide charge, says it felt like the future.

“For the first time, I had a voice to put the power,” said Williams. “It was like, oh wait, this is my democracy, this is mine. I actually care about this. This means something to me. I feel included.”

The court will hand down its ruling at a later time.

RELATED: Minnesota Supreme Court denies lawsuit to restore felons’ right to vote