Abigail M. Hinchcliff, 121 Yale L.J. 194 (2011):
Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment allows states to disenfranchise citizens on account of “rebellion, or other crime” without reducing the size of the state’s delegation in the House of Representatives. In its 1974 decision in Richardson v. Ramirez, the Supreme Court held that this language in the Fourteenth Amendment (the so-called Penalty Clause) provides an “affirmative sanction” for at least some forms of felon disenfranchisement. Although lower courts have construed the RamirezCourt's constitutional approval for felon disenfranchisement broadly, this Note argues that Ramirez authorizes felon disenfranchisement only in a narrow set of circumstances. Whereas other commentators have called for the overruling of Ramirez and for nontextualist interpretations of the Penalty Clause, this Note works within the confines of the Ramirez decision and follows the Court’s command that “language [in the Penalty Clause] was intended . . . to mean what it says.” The Clause’s “other crime” construction follows a syntactical pattern found in three other constitutional clauses, and a close examination of the repeated use of this construction reveals that the scope and meaning of “crime” is framed by the leading examples or categories that precede it. The constitutionality of disenfranchisement is limited by this relationship and should be reexamined.