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BOSTON �� A federal judge in Boston has issued a ruling allowing an interlocutory appeal of a lawsuit challenging a Massachusetts state constitutional amendment and a state law banning imprisoned felons from voting in state and federal elections. The three plaintiffs suing Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin claim the rules’ disproportionate impact on African-American and Hispanic-American voters in Massachusetts violate the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. The 2000 Massachusetts constitutional change prohibits incarcerated felons from voting in certain election categories. The 2001 law expanded the bar to all elections held in the state. Simmons v. Galvin, No. 01-11040 (D. Mass.) In a Jan. 16 filing, Chief Judge Mark L. Wolf wrote that getting a 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the voting rights act claim before discovery and trial could save significant time and expense. “The VRA claim raises unique and important legal questions that will not have to be decided again in the future once the First Circuit, or the Supreme Court, resolves them,” Wolf wrote. In an August 30 summary judgment, the court rejected the plaintiffs’ other claims that the rules violated two provisions of the U.S. Constitution. Galvin spokesman Brian McNiff said Galvin’s office does not comment on pending litigation.

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