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Abstract

This Note argues that the United States’ practice of disenfranchising people with felony convictions runs counter to modern human rights law as expressed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Although these treaties are non-self-executing, I suggest that they can be marshaled in the fight against felony disenfranchisement in conjunction with the Charming Betsy canon to support interpretations of vague state disenfranchisement statutes—and, indeed, constitutional provisions—that accord with the United States’ international obligations. By demonstrating how these treaties might aid the interpretation of ambiguous disenfranchisement laws, I offer a judicially driven solution to a pressing issue in criminal justice reform.

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