Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals - Published Opinions

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Thompson: Restoration of right to vote not sufficient for possession of firearm

In U.S. v. Thompson, No. 11-15122 (December 11, 2012), the Court held that although a defendant’s right to vote had been restored following an earlier Alabama assault conviction, this did not mean his civil rights had been restored for purposes of exempting him from being a felon in possession of a firearm in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1).

The Court pointed out that the statute refers to the restoration of civil rights, in the plural. Only Thompson’s right to vote was restored. His right to serve on a jury, and to hold public office, were not restored.

The Court rejected the argument that “voting rights” encompasses several attendant rights, including the right to vote in federal elections, and state elections, and primaries. “[T]he fact remains that Thompson had only one of the three key civil rights restored: the right to vote.”