Desmond Meade, a former felon in Florida is trying to turn his life around for the better. He has been in and out of prison for drug related crimes. However, since being released, he recently graduated from Florida International University law school. Despite his efforts to better himself, the system is still working against him. It is a known fact that it is very difficult to get a job, go to college, etc. with a felony on your record. Those are all huge problems in our society, but what some people may not know is that former felons cannot vote in many states. This is where Meade is most hurt, stating, “I’m reminded that I’m not a full citizen, because I’m being left out of a process that speaks to citizenship more than anything else.” This is the issue that approximately 6.1 million americans with felonies are facing.
John Rawls’ concept of the “veil of ignorance” is directly related to this article. The “veil of ignorance” is a hypothetical technique that would allow for humans to forget inherent and unintentional bias that affect our thinking when deciding if something is just or unjust. Rawls lists two principles that humans aspiring to the “veil of ignorance” would use: 1) “Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive basic liberty compatible with a similar liberty for others.” and 2) “Social and economic inequalities are to be arranged so that they are both (a) reasonably expected to be to everyones advantage, and (b) attached to positions and offices open to all” (pg.347).With that being said, I believe the states that deny former felons to vote are not using the veil of ignorance. The right to vote falls under the category of a basic liberty described in the first principle stated by Rawls. Furthermore, the states are not promoting equal opportunity or ensuring that the inequalities benefit the least-advantaged members of society because they are denying a person the right to vote, who is already facing the many obstacles of turning their life around that comes with being a former felon.