From an opinion by Judge Tjoflat, joined by Judge Moody (sitting by designation) in Thompson v. Secretary of State for the State of Alabama (lightly edited):
Greater Birmingham Ministries, an Alabamian non-profit organization dedicated to aiding low-income individuals, and several Alabamian felons appeal the District Court for the Middle District of Alabama’s summary judgment denying their Equal Protection Clause, U.S. Const. amend. XIV, § 1, challenge to Amendment 579 of the Alabama state constitution, their Ex Post Facto Clause, U.S. Const. art. I, § 9, cl. 3, challenge to Amendment 579’s disenfranchisement provisions, and their National Voting Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”), 52 U.S.C. § 20501 et seq., challenge to the format of Alabama’s mail voting registration form. Because we hold that (1) Amendment 579 successfully dissipated any taint from the racially discriminatory motives behind the 1901 Alabama constitution; (2) Amendment 579 does not impose punishment for purposes of the Ex Post Facto Clause; and (3) Alabama’s mail voting registration form complies with the NVRA, we affirm.
Judge Rosenbaum concurred in part and dissented in part in a longer opinion, which opens:
Deceiving an elector in preparation of her ballot. Altering another person’s ballot. Failing to count legally cast absentee votes. Illegally voting more than once in an election (second violation). Willfully and intentionally signing the name of another elector in a poll book. Bribery of public servants. And perjury.
Perhaps this recitation sounds like a list of felonies that would disqualify an Alabamian from voting under Amendment 579 to Alabama’s constitution—Alabama’s felon-disenfranchisement provision. Nope. Those convicted of any of these voting-fraud-related felonies are A-okay, good to go when it comes to voting in Alabama. Alabama exempts them from its felon-disenfranchisement provision, Amendment 579. Under that provision, only other felons—those convicted of felony crimes that Alabama says are crimes of “moral turpitude”—can’t vote.
Even worse, in the nearly thirty years since Alabama amended its felon-disenfranchisement provision, Alabama has de-fined the phrase “moral turpitude” in contradictory or non-uni-form ways. At one point, Alabama even allowed each local registrar to interpret the term for herself. In other words, when Alabama precluded those convicted of felony crimes of “moral turpitude” from voting, it may as well have excluded those convicted of “whatever felonies Alabama (or any of its local registrars) at any point in the future might say disqualify a voter,” as Alabama had no definition of the phrase “moral turpitude” in mind.
All of this raises the question: just what was Alabama trying to accomplish with its felon-disenfranchisement provision?
. . .
Indeed, when, as here, the amended law does nothing to advance its stated purpose, it cannot cleanse the taint of its discriminatory origins. For that reason, if I were not bound by our precedent, I would hold that Alabama’s felon-disenfranchisement provision violates the Equal Protection Clause. But since I am bound, I cannot and must instead conclude that, under our case law, the provision does not violate the Equal Protection Clause.
That said, though, Alabama’s felon-disenfranchisement statute and its voter registration form do violate the Ex Post Facto Clause and the National Voter Registration Act, respectively. So I would reverse the district court’s denial of those challenges.