After years of expressing little interest, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday asked the Obama administration to weigh in on whether laws that bar felons from voting violated the federal Voting Rights Act.

The request came in the case of Simmons v. Galvin, in which the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Massachusetts Article 120, an amendment to the state constitution in 2000 that barred felons from voting while in prison. Massachusetts is one of 13 states with similar prohibitions, while 35 other states extend the ban to the period of parole or probation or beyond. Only Maine and Vermont allow felons to vote without restriction during and after their imprisonment.

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