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How Young Should Voters Be?: 16-Year-Olds’ Entitlement to the Most Basic Civil Right [Part V]

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6 Responses

  1. I’ve yet to read all the posts and the article for that matter in their entirety, although I’ve skimmed the latter and am inclined to find the argument persuasive. One concern, and perhaps it’s misplaced, is that those who favor trying and sentencing juveniles as adults for certain crimes in our criminal justice system will now invoke these sundry arguments to continue if not enlarge the practice. Some may be not be at all troubled by this, by I do wonder if this might be one possible perverse side-effect. And along those lines, have you come across social scientific and/or cognitive psychology literature that makes the case for NOT trying juveniles as adults, just the sort of literature those opposed to your proposal might want to cite?

  2. erratum: “some may not be…”

  3. Brett Bellmore says:

    You really want to claim that the right to vote is “the most basic” civil liberty? More basic than, say, freedom of speech?

  4. Shag from Brookline says:

    I’m shocked, shocked that Brett mentioned freedom of speech as a more basic idea than Second Amendment rights as the NRA has recently been critical of freedom of speech (Hollywood?) as it bears upon the absolute Second Amendment rights now challenged by the Newtown shootings, suggesting guns don’t kill, freedom of speech does.

    I don’t know if the right to vote is the most basic civil liberty, but it is near the top. The fourth section of Article Four of the Constitution requires the United States to guarantee to each state a republican form of government, ….” There is no similar provision regarding the national government but it seems clear that the Constitution provides for a republican form of government at the national level as well. The vote is of course significant with regard to a representative form of government at both the states and national levels, making the vote very basic. Of course the First Amendment’s Speech/Press Clauses may facilitate voting in various ways, including the role of money/wealth in influencing the Speech/Press Clauses (per Citizens United). In the 2012 elections, the majority of votes favored democrats for the presidency, the Senate and the House; but gerrymandering in red states protected the House’s GOP majority. What about the concept of “one person, one vote”? Money/wealth played a significant role in accomplishing gerrymandering in various ways. So perhaps the right to vote is more basic than freedom of speech, at least for purposes of a republican form of government.

    Perhaps Brett questions the concept of a republican form of government, unless republican is capitalized.

    One size may not fil all for purposes of voting with respect to reducing the voting age. But if the movement generates bringing back the study of civics in our schools, that would be a plus, since civics teaches us that with rights there are also responsibilities.

  5. I understand that other nations may be ready for this change, but I do not know if the United States is ready fr this yet, based on the posts that I have been reading. I do not know if we are ready yet.

  6. Vivian Hamilton says:

    Thank you for your comments. Patrick — a lot has been written about adolescent cognitive/psychosocial development in the juvenile justice context. You might look at Elizabeth Scott & Laurence Steinberg’s “Rethinking Juvenile Justice,” (2008). The Supreme Court cited their work in Roper v. Simmons, the case in which it abolished the death penalty for juveniles. I’ve written about it some as well, particularly how we ought to take better account of what we know about adolescent development in various policy-making contexts. I provide an overview in a 2011 article, “Immature Citizens and the State,” http://hq.ssrn.com/submissions/MyPapers.cfm?partid=397446

    I’ll also write in my next couple of posts about adolescent decision making in two other contexts where I think the evidence is pretty clear that they lack competence–marriage and driving.

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