Media advisory- Fighting for the right to vote on Feb. 12

Professor to challenge MO voting ban for all disabled adults under full guardianship before Justice O'Connor and the Eighth Circuit

Who: Samuel Bagenstos, professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis and antidiscrimination law expert. Bagenstos’ co-counsel come from the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington D.C., the ACLU National Voting Rights Project in Atlanta, the ACLU of Eastern Missouri, and the Sonnenschein law firm in Kansas City.

What: Bagenstos will argue Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services v. Carnahan before Justice Sandra Day O’Connor and the Eighth Circuit.

This case involves a challenge to the Missouri constitutional and statutory provisions that disenfranchise individuals who are under full guardianship, even if they have the capacity to vote. In Missouri, individuals are placed under guardianship if they lack the capacity to care for themselves. But although the lack of self-care skills does not imply the inability to understand the nature and effect of voting, Missouri categorically prohibits all individuals under guardianship from voting, without any individualized inquiry into their competence to vote.

Where: En Banc Courtroom, 28th Floor, Thomas F. Eagleton United States Courthouse, 111 S. 10th Street, St. Louis

When: 9:00 A.M.

Why: The plaintiffs contend that Missouri’s voting ban violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Rehabilitation Act, and the Fourteenth Amendment.

“Many people under guardianship want to and have the capacity to vote—and Missouri’s recent cuts to Medicaid give them a life-and-death interest in voting. But the state disenfranchises them, without ever even examining whether they are competent to vote,” Bagenstos says.

“We ask for a simple ruling: A state can’t exclude a person from voting based on incompetence unless it makes a specific finding that he or she is in fact incompetent to vote. The Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act forbid states from adopting broad rules that disenfranchise an entire class of people with disabilities.”