Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Obama Backs Holder's Stand to Let Felons Vote

Bookmark and Share

"It is very important for us, if somebody has served their time, for them to be able to participate in their democracy." - Barack Obama, August 15, 2011

barackobama10.jpgEric Holder keeps making news in February.

Last week marked five years on the job, and earlier this week he stated he planned to remain in his position "well into 2014," which would make him the third longest-serving attorney general in U.S. history should he last into December.

Then on Tuesday, during a speech at Georgetown University, Holder made waves when he announced his strong support for states to repeal laws that forbid felons to vote after they've been released from prison.

Holder called such laws "unjust" and stated recidivism would be lower if these laws were abandoned as such felons would be better reintegrated into society.

The attorney general also singled out the particular deleterious impact these laws had on racial minorities.

So where does President Obama stand on this issue?

Smart Politics searched through the president's speeches and statements over his five-plus years in office and found he has mentioned felons 11 times as president.

During one speech, at a question-and-answer session in Decorah, Iowa in August 2011, the president was asked by an ex-criminal what could be done so he could "move past the past" and "have something better than an entry-level job."

Obama replied:

"Well, there are obviously a bunch of different aspects to the challenges for folks who have some sort of felony record. It affects them economically. It affects them in terms of voting in some States. One of the strengths of America has always been that this is a land of second chances. And as somebody who feels deeply about my faith, one of the things about my Christian faith is that I believe in redemption and second chances. And so as a consequence, I think it is very important for us--first of all, if somebody has served their time, for them to be able to participate in their democracy. And historically, many of these issues in terms of eligibility to vote have been set at the State level as opposed to the Federal level, but the Justice Department at the Federal level does have the capacity and the obligation to monitor what States are doing to make sure that they are not purposely exclusionary. And so we're going to be monitoring voting rights all across the country as long as I'm President of the United States, because I think that the burden of proof should be on States to provide a rationale as to why somebody shouldn't be voting, as opposed to the burden of proof on the person not voting as to why they should have a right to vote. That's my general view. - Remarks at a Town Hall Meeting and a Question-and-Answer Session in Decorah, Iowa (August 15, 2011)

But Obama hasn't consistently been on the record for giving full rights to felons.

For example, in three separate speeches in 2013, the president spoke about the need for legislation to prevent felons from owning firearms:

"If you want to buy a gun--whether it's from a licensed dealer or a private seller--you should at least have to show you are not a felon or somebody legally prohibited from buying one." - Remarks on Gun Violence (January 16, 2013)

"An overwhelming majority of Americans agree that anyone trying to buy a gun should at least have to prove that they're not a felon or somebody legally prohibited from owning one. That's just common sense." - The President's Weekly Address (January 19, 2013)

"By now, it's well known that 90 percent of the American people support universal background checks that make it harder for a dangerous person to buy a gun. We're talking about convicted felons, people convicted of domestic violence, people with a severe mental illness. Ninety percent of Americans support that idea. Most Americans think that's already the law." - Remarks on Senate Action on Gun Control Legislation (April 17, 2013)

And when a woman asked Obama four years ago how the 'system' could be improved to help people like her brother - who had 33 felonies by the age of 27 - get a job, the president replied frankly:

"Thirty-three felonies is a lot. I mean, that's a long rap sheet, which means that it's very--I'm just being realistic. If I'm a business owner, and I'm saying to myself, right now the unemployment rate is 10 percent, so there are a whole lot of folks who've never been to jail who are looking for a job, it's hard for me to say, I'll choose the guy who went to jail instead of the person who never went to jail and has been laid off." - Remarks at a Town Hall Meeting and a Question-and-Answer Session in Tampa, Florida (January 28, 2010)

It will be interesting to see if Obama is asked directly at his next news conference to confirm his positions that felons should be allowed to vote, not be allowed to own guns, and not be shocked if they aren't hired as a result of their conviction.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Georgia's Republican US Senate Primary: A Race for the Ages?
Next post: Do Democratic Hopes of Beating Kline End with a Dayton Loss?

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Is There a Presidential Drag On Gubernatorial Elections?

Only five of the 20 presidents to serve since 1900 have seen their party win a majority of gubernatorial elections during their administrations, and only one since JFK.

Political Crumbs

Strike Three for Miller-Meeks

Iowa Republicans had a banner day on November 4th, picking up both a U.S. Senate seat and one U.S. House seat, but Mariannette Miller-Meeks' defeat in her third attempt to oust Democrat Dave Loebsack in the 2nd CD means the GOP will not have a monopoly on the state's congressional delegation in the 114th Congress. The loss by Miller-Meeks (following up her defeats in 2008 and 2010) means major party nominees who lost their first two Iowa U.S. House races are now 0 for 10 the third time around in Iowa history. Miller-Meeks joins Democrat William Leffingwell (1858, 1868, 1870), Democrat Anthony Van Wagenen (1894, 1912 (special), 1912), Democrat James Murtagh (1906, 1914, 1916), Democrat Clair Williams (1944, 1946, 1952), Democrat Steven Carter (1948, 1950, 1956), Republican Don Mahon (1966, 1968, 1970), Republican Tom Riley (1968, 1974, 1976), Democrat Eric Tabor (1986, 1988, 1990), and Democrat Bill Gluba (1982, 1988, 2004) on the Hawkeye State's Three Strikes list.


Larry Pressler Wins the Silver

Larry Pressler may have fallen short in his long-shot, underfunded, and understaffed bid to return to the nation's upper legislative chamber, but he did end up notching the best showing for a non-major party South Dakota U.S. Senate candidate in more than 90 years. Pressler won 17.1 percent of the vote which is the best showing for an independent or third party U.S. Senate candidate in the state since 1920 when non-partisan candidate Tom Ayres won 24.1 percent in a race won by Republican Peter Norbeck. Overall, Pressler's 17.1 percent is good for the second best mark for a non-major party candidate across the 35 U.S. Senate contests in South Dakota history. Independent and third party candidates have appeared on the South Dakota U.S. Senate ballot just 25 times over the last century and only three have reached double digits: Pressler in 2014 and Ayres in 1920 and 1924 (12.1 percent). Pressler's defeat means he won't become the oldest candidate elected to the chamber in South Dakota history nor notch the record for the longest gap in service in the direct election era.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting