Minnesota Supreme Court – MVA v. Hunt Amicus Brief Filed

On March 1, the State Democracy Research Initiative’s faculty co-directors Miriam Seifter and Rob Yablon filed an amicus brief in Minnesota Voters Alliance v. Hunt, a case pending before the Minnesota Supreme Court. The appellants in the case are challenging a Minnesota law passed in 2023 that restores the right to vote to those convicted of felonies once they are no longer incarcerated. The law extended the right to vote to more than 50,000 people on parole, probation, or community release due to felony convictions.

The plaintiffs in the case have argued that such restoration of the right to vote violates the state constitution—namely, the provision providing that individuals convicted of a felony may not vote “unless restored to civil rights.” Under their reading, this provision bars the Minnesota Legislature from restoring voting rights until after the completion of an entire sentence, including periods of probation, parole, or community release.

The amicus brief filed Friday underscores that this reading is antithetical to the core democratic commitments of the Minnesota Constitution. In light of the Constitution’s fundamentally inclusive system of popular self-government, the brief argues, it would be inappropriate to read this provision in a manner that impedes the people’s ability, through their elected representatives, to bring their fellow Minnesotans back into the fold as citizens by restoring their right to vote. The brief also surveys other states with similar constitutional language, noting that Minnesota would become an outlier if it were to adopt plaintiffs’ strained reading.

Senior Staff Attorney Derek Clinger and Staff Attorney Bryna Godar contributed significantly to this brief.