Monday, February 26, 2007

Post-Dispatch Editorial on Missouri Guardianship-Voting Case

My hometown paper today had this lead editorial on the guardianship-voting case I argued in the Eighth Circuit two weeks ago. Key grafs:

That's not good enough. Voting rights are not addressed routinely in probate proceedings, and state law does not require an assessment of an individual's capacity to vote in guardianship cases. Nor does the law allow judges any discretion when it comes to voting rights and full guardianship.

Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a former president of the American Psychiatric Association and a leading expert on decisional competency, evaluated Mr. Scaletty and determined that he is competent to vote. Mr. Scaletty reads at least two newspapers a day. He has voted in local, state and national elections for many years. Both Mr. Scaletty's father and his social worker told Dr. Appelbaum that he holds strong opinions about political issues and has "a very good understanding of how elections work."

With so much at stake in both local and national elections, the state must not deprive anyone of the right to vote without substantial justification. Some of the people who are subject to the voting ban follow politics and have aligned themselves on particular sides of issues and with specific candidates and parties. Some have participated in political rallies and lobbied legislators on issues such as Medicaid cuts, which directly affect them.

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