Biden’s Yemen Folly:
February 8, 2021
One of the Biden Administration’s first major foreign policy moves was pulling American military support from the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen and halting some arms sales to the Kingdom and its allies. While this may seem like a humanitarian effort to end a war that has devastated Yemen and left millions on the brink of starvation, the move is likely to backfire spectacularly.
Yemen’s civil war began in 2014, mainly being fought between the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels, the Saudi and Emirati-backed internationally recognized Yemeni government, and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). With millions starving in Yemen, one of the most critical epicenters of the war has become the port of Al Hudaydah, the principal location for food importation. The U.S. has drawn harsh criticism for backing the Saudi coalition, as numerous U.S. munitions have been used on civilian targets. However, in pulling American support, President Biden may ultimately undermine his goal of ending what he described as a “humanitarian and strategic catastrophe.” There are three reasons pulling American support and arms will be antithetical to progress: decreases in strike accuracy, Saudi insecurity, and the potential for adversary fill in.
American support for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates has given the U.S. armed forces the ability to influence the Saudi coalition’s strategy to a degree. Ultimately, American munitions with American drone operators are far preferable to Saudi or Emirati munitions targeted by coalition operators. American munitions can be far more accurate than more rudimentary explosive devices that can be produced domestically in Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the Saudi coalition has fewer inhibitions when it comes to accurately targeting enemy combatants. Without the accuracy of U.S. weaponry and drone operators, civilian casualties in Houthi-controlled regions would likely rise.
The Saudi and Emirati reliance on the U.S. for support has also given the U.S. a great deal of leverage it can use to influence coalition decision making. Soft power is an invaluable asset for the U.S. because it allows them to push the otherwise intransigent Saudis to the negotiating table. Continued pressure from past presidential administrations has been able to cajole Saudi Arabia into negotiating a ceasefire with the Houthis which is the only surefire way to ensure aid can reach the Yemeni civilians. Mr. Biden’s choice to withdraw support from the Saudi coalition has forfeited some of America’s leverage, meaning future diplomatic efforts will likely fail. Dr. Kenneth Pollack, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, postulated in a 2015 article for the Brookings Institution that “in the absence of American engagement, leadership, and military involvement in the region, the G[ulf] C[ooperation C[ouncil] (led, as always, by the Saudis) get frightened, and[…] lash out.” Dr. Pollack directly attributes the shocking violence of the Saudi air campaign in Yemen to doubts and insecurity about America’s commitment. Shaking the Kingdoms’ sense of security will only serve to make them lash out more violently.
Lastly, withdrawing American support and arms sales creates a vacuum that could be filled by actors who are far more malicious. Indeed, both China and Russia are expanding their foreign arms sales globally and have negotiated with the Saudis in the past. If Russia or China was to begin bankrolling the Saudi war effort, they would gain unprecedented leverage with one of America’s most vital strategic allies in the region. Aside from the potentially disastrous global strategic ramifications such a situation could have, there is almost no chance Russia or China would advance a strategic agenda that would prioritize Yemeni civilian lives. Indeed, Russia and China have both obstructed global efforts to hold the Assad regime accountable for its war crimes in Syria.
Ultimately, Mr. Biden’s failure to adequately support America’s Middle Eastern allies is dangerously misguided. In pulling support for vital American allies, the future for Yemen seems bleak; the War will not be any closer to ending, civilian deaths will likely rise, and the global balance of power may be imperiled.
A Path Forward for the Republican Party:
January 24, 2021
The Republican party is in tatters. The weeks following the results of the 2020 Presidential Election created a schism within the GOP that cost them two senate seats in a red state. If the GOP intends to win national elections in the future, which I hope they do, and take back senate seats in Arizona and Georgia, which I hope they do, the GOP must find a way to cleanse itself of the protofascist Trump obsession that has captivated some of the base. The GOP was not always the party of nationalism and nativism that openly peddled conspiracy theories and lies; the GOP used to be honorable, I believe that it can be honorable again.
13 short years ago, the late Senator John McCain, then the Republican Party’s presidential candidate, encountered a question from a member of the audience at a rally. She stated that she “can’t trust Obama[…] he’s an Arab.” Senator McCain immediately shook his head, said “no ma’am” and took the microphone. McCain then replied “he’s a decent, family man, citizen, who I just happen to have disagreements with[…] he’s not [an Arab].” Senator McCain refused to peddle a politically convenient falsehood about President Obama’s national origin because it was the right thing to do. Now, there’s a shortage of people willing to do the right thing in the GOP. A frightening number of Republican politicians around the country were willing to openly deceive the American people by promulgating a lie about electoral results. Those politicians’ lies resulted in the death of a Capitol police officer, Brian Sicknick, who was tasked with protecting the very people who set loose the ravenous mob that killed him. And yet, when the time came to hold Mr. Trump accountable, only 10 GOP members of congress voted to impeach him. This unforgivable behavior is also present at the state and local levels. On Saturday, January 23rd, the Arizona GOP censured Cindy McCain, Sen. John McCain’s widow, Governor Doug Ducey (R-AZ), and retired Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ). The Republican party cast loyal, upstanding members to the curb because they had the audacity to stand up to Mr. Trump’s lies, and do the right thing.
In February, the Senate will hold an impeachment trial where they will have the opportunity to cleanse the party of Trumpism and begin to return to the basic decency it once had. There are two things that must be done between now and 2022 to reforge the GOP into something Republicans can be proud of. First, the Senate must vote to remove Mr. Trump and bar him from ever running again. Second, the Republican party itself must reject Trumpist protofascist candidates like Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL).
First, the Senate. To remove and convict, Mr. Trump, there must be a ⅔ majority in the Senate. It is safe to assume that all 48 Democratic senators and the two independents who caucus with the Democrats will vote to convict. It is also safe to assume that Senators Romney (R-UT) and Murkowski (R-AK) will also vote to convict, as they’ve indicated that they intend to. There are whispers that Republican Leader McConnell (R-KY) was supportive of impeachment; hopefully this will translate to conviction and hopefully, Leader McConnell’s bloc of support will also vote to convict with him. However, any 2024 Republican presidential hopefuls in the Senate ought to convict and prevent him from seeking office too; after all, they’ll have a much easier time securing the nomination without Donald Trump in their way.
But to truly rid the GOP of Trump, his acolytes must also be pushed out. It’s fine for the GOP to be populist; at a juncture in our nation’s history where there is intense inequality, populism may be needed to create a more equitable system of government. However, there is a difference between the populism of Goldwater, Nixon, and Reagan, and the populism of Trump. GOP populism should know no race, gender, faith, or creed. It should be patriotic, not discriminatory and nativist. Mr. Trump’s ideology of protectionism, isolationism, and nativism is not what the GOP was or should continue to espouse in the future. 2018 census projections estimated that by 2045 America will be minority white, if the GOP hopes to win in the future, they should embrace legal immigration. America is—after all—a nation of immigrants.
The GOP must end this madness. The GOP has sold its soul to a devil dressed in a QAnon shirt and a MAGA hat. In the immortal words of Senator McCain, “glory belongs to the act of being constant to something greater than yourself, to a cause, to your principles, to the people on whom you rely on and who rely on you.”
A Statement by the Editors of the Opinion Section of The Tattler on the Violent Acts of Insurrection on January 6, 2021:
January 7, 2021
We, the opinion editors of The Tattler, are appalled by the wanton violence that was displayed by supporters of President Donald Trump at the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021. This blatant act of insurrection is a threat to the democratic foundation of this country and has demonstrated how our democracy has suffered under the tenure of President Trump. There can be no doubt, Mr. Trump incited this riot. The statements of the President, members of the far-right media, and those members of Congress who objected to the certification of President-elect Biden’s win that cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election have undermined the Constitution and the Republic.
These seditious acts must not go unpunished. We call on law enforcement and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to prosecute all who desecrated the Capitol to the fullest extent of the law. We call for Vice President Mike Pence to invoke the 25th Amendment of the Constitution to remove President Trump from office immediately. We simultaneously urge the House of Representatives to pursue articles of impeachment and the Senate to convict a President who has overstayed his welcome in the White House. Finally, we call on those Republican members of Congress who have peddled the lie that the election was stolen to heed Senator Mitt Romney’s (R-UT) advice: “the best way we can show respect for the voters who are upset is by telling them the truth. That is the burden, and the duty, of leadership. The truth is that President-elect Biden won this election. President Trump lost.”
America is bleeding. To begin healing this country, we must first remove the source of its ailment; it is high time for Mr. Trump to go.
Eli Glickman and Sammy Schuchman, The Editors of the Opinion Section of the Tattler
The Biden Pentagon:
December 13, 2020
This past week President-elect Joe Biden announced his nominee for secretary of defense, retired four-star Army General Lloyd Austin, who will, if confirmed, be the first Black secretary of defense. Gen. Austin, despite his exemplary career of military service, is a somewhat concerning choice to lead the Pentagon. American defense policy has shifted towards Asia, and counterterrorism—Gen. Austin’s area of expertise—has taken the backseat to larger strategic questions with China and Russia. Moreover, Gen. Austin’s nomination bears with it controversies surrounding the military industrial complex and civilian control of the military, something Mr. Biden himself acknowledged was “under great stress.”
Gen. Austin most recently served as the commander of Central Command (CENTCOM), CENTCOM’s area of responsibility is primarily the Middle East and central Asia, everything from Egypt to Kazakhstan. While leading CENTCOM, Gen. Austin oversaw the American deployments to counter the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) after June of 2014. This experience suggests that Gen. Austin will likely be well suited to handle the administrative aspects of leading the Pentagon, however, it is unclear how well suited this makes him to handle larger scale and more delicate conflicts with Russia and China. Hal Brands, a resident scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, wrote of a Pentagon led by Gen. Austin, “The ‘what’ of U.S. defense strategy is relatively clear. The ‘how’ will test a secretary who is relatively new to the dilemmas of Indo-Pacific defense.” Dr. Brands is correct; the Biden transition team ought to be more transparent about what Gen. Austin’s policy priorities will be and how we can expect his Pentagon to address evolving threats in Asia.
Civilian control of the military, and independence from special interests are essential components of any liberal democracy. This was eroded under the administration of President Donald Trump; the appointment of four-star Marine General James Mattis, now a fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, required a Congressional waiver to serve as the secretary of defense. Likewise, Gen. Austin has been retired for less than seven years, the minimum required before being able to serve as secretary by the 1947 National Security Act. Mr. Biden’s platitude-heavy op-ed for The Atlantic defending his selection of Gen. Austin highlights the hypocrisy of this choice. President-elect Biden wrote, “I respect and believe in the importance of civilian control of our military and in the importance of a strong civil-military working relationship at [the Department of Defense].” However, choosing another general who will require another Congressional waiver, seems to indicate otherwise. Additionally, Gen. Austin sits on the board of Raytheon, which received over $15 billion in Department of Defense contracts in 2019.
In President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address, he left America with a sobering warning, “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” Gen. Austin, if confirmed, must divest from his business interests in Raytheon and United Technologies, and remember that he is no longer a military commander, but a civilian representative and leader in the Pentagon.
Coronavirus Restrictions and Religious Liberties:
December 7, 2020
As COVID-19 cases spike across the country, new restrictions are being imposed every day to limit the spread of the virus. Despite their ostensibly well-intentioned imposition, many of these restrictions have placed an undue burden on houses of worship. Indeed, the Supreme Court ruled in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, New York v. Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor of New York, with a 5-4 decision, that New York’s coronavirus restrictions against houses of worship were likely discriminating against religion, and thus violating the First Amendment. The coronavirus is an extreme circumstance for this country, however, restrictions must continue to be applied equally if we are to preserve the rights enshrined in the Constitution.
The case in New York revolved around the state’s COVID-19 restrictions, which outlined red and orange zones. In red zones, where the spread was particularly acute, houses of worship were limited to a maximum occupancy of 10 people. In orange zones, houses of worship were restricted to 25 people. Despite some irregularities with regards to limiting a church with a capacity of 1,000 people to just 10 occupants, this restriction does not sound so pernicious at face value. However, in red zones, ‘essential’ businesses could admit as many people as they wanted. ‘Essential’ businesses in red zones included acupuncturists, garages, and plants manufacturing chemicals and microelectronics. Meanwhile, in orange zones, both essential and nonessential businesses were given carte blanche by New York when deciding how many people they could admit at once. Therein lies the problem; businesses that also risk contributing to the spread of COVID-19 faced far less severe restrictions than houses of worship; despite no evidence that the Catholic churches that had sued New York had contributed to the spread of COVID-19.
Based on precedent from two landmark freedom of religion cases, Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah (1993) and Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith (1990), laws must be neutral and generally applicable to avoid violating the First Amendment. Governor Cuomo’s restrictions, which had been reversed prior to the Court’s ruling in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo, were not neutral as they placed restrictions on houses of worship that were far more severe than those on other businesses with comparable risk profiles in their respective zones. These exceptions made by states like New York, Nevada, and California to their COVID-19 restrictions demonstrate a concerning trend. States are willing to impose restrictions on religious communities while keeping tax-generating businesses like casinos and liquor stores open, with restrictions that are markedly less stringent. To truly slow the spread of the coronavirus, the restrictions must be applied evenly to all businesses and houses of worship, not what is most financially convenient for the government.
This was not an isolated incident. Governor Gavin Newsom (D) of California banned all indoor worship services, regardless of size, while keeping liquor stores and cardrooms open, without placing any occupancy restrictions on them. In response, the Supreme Court ordered a lawsuit against Governor Newsom to be reconsidered by a district court, presumably anticipating that the precedent from Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn will be applied there.
The COVID-19 pandemic has tested every component of American society, our people, our institutions, and our Constitution. COVID-19 must be stopped, there must be restrictions to flatten the curve and mitigate the already staggering death tolls, however, those restrictions must be applied neutrally to all businesses and entities; the Constitution and its protections cannot be brushed aside whenever politicians deem it convenient, especially when they are unwilling to apply the same restrictions to secular businesses.
Containing China Under a Biden Administration:
November 29, 2020
President-elect Joe Biden has a daunting task before him: handling the nascent ‘second Cold War’ with China. Earlier this year in the Fall, China was becoming increasingly aggressive with the nearby island of Taiwan, a self-governing country that China maintains is neither independent nor self-governing but part of China. The increase in tensions has been fueled—in part—by President Trump’s choice to sell advanced weaponry to the island nation, in hopes of better preparing it for conflict with China.
Taiwan plays a critical role in the larger power struggle between China and the United States; Taiwan is proof that the American ideological agenda can work in Asia. The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) position is that democracy is neither viable nor in the best interests of the citizenry in China. Chinese President Xi Jinping maintains a stranglehold on nearly all aspects of Chinese society, clamping down on both internal political divisions and divergent cultural groups like the Uyghurs, Falun Gong, and Tibetans. Taiwan is evidence that economic growth, social order, low levels of corruption, and democracy can coexist in Asia. Taiwan has a score of 93/100, compared to China’s 10/100 on the think tank Freedom House’s most recent Global Freedom Scores list.
China is also waging an economic Cold War against U.S. interests through their Belt and Road Initiative and other aggressive foreign investment tactics. China has a strategy of debt trap diplomacy in which they seek to make borrowing countries massively indebted to them to increase their leverage. This is most concerningly seen in Sri Lanka where China used its massive credit and leverage to compel Sri Lanka to give them a key port in the Indian Ocean in 2015. The Chinese government has directed similar pressure at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to try to cement their regional economic hegemony. President-elect Biden must combat China’s ambitious expansionism and prevent the ASEAN nations from becoming overly indebted to China. Mr. Biden ought to use Sri Lanka as a cautionary example of what China’s economic plans for the region are and juxtapose it with Taiwan: an excellent example of what economic, military, and democratic cooperation with the U.S. can yield.
How Mr. Biden goes about combating climate change will also play an important role in the new Cold War with China. China is the largest polluter in the world with nearly double the annual CO2 emissions of the U.S, according to data from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Mr. Biden has made clear that he intends to make climate change a key issue of foreign policy and national security, making it another theater for tensions with China. However, the appointment of former Secretary of State John Kerry as Mr. Biden’s climate czar has the potential to harm our ability to adequately outpace China; Mr. Kerry is notorious for his inability to drive a hard bargain. A survey by Foreign Policy Magazine and the College of William & Mary of 1,615 international relations scholars ranked Mr. Kerry the least effective secretary of state in the last 50 years. If Mr. Kerry is given carte blanche to pursue climate negotiations with China that do not adequately serve the U.S. interests in the region, he may severely complicate our ability to contain Chinese economic and military expansion.
Mr. Biden will enter office at a crossroads in Sino-American relations; he will need to make a choice about whether to prioritize climate goals—negotiated by a frequently ineffective diplomat—or a long-term strategy of Chinese containment and democratization in Southeast Asia. President-elect Biden’s selections for other key national security positions in his cabinet send hopeful signals that there will be some experienced diplomats who know how to play hardball with China to protect our interests and the interests of our allies.
Saving the Court:
November 15, 2020
The confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has highlighted the great dangers facing the Court today: partisanship. Following the hypocritical actions of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who spearheaded the confirmation of Justice Barrett 7 days before the election while having refused to even consider Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee, well over 200 days before the 2016 election, many on the left began to call for President-elect Biden to ‘pack the court.’ Meanwhile, the right has been similarly guilty of politicizing the courts, most notably through grossly partisan behavior surrounding the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It is of the utmost importance that the judicial system remain apolitical; in this time of great polarization the courts must maintain their legitimacy and their ability to administer justice without political bias.
The cries to pack the court signal a willingness by some on the left to fully abandon any hope of an apolitical judiciary. To establish a precedent of court-packing would corrode our democracy by ensuring that presidential administrations seek out judges based on political ideology, instead of jurisprudential qualifications, constantly modifying the number of seats on the Court to ensure a majority. In the 1930s President Franklin Delano Roosevelt attempted a similar measure. Roosevelt proposed the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937 which aimed to add one justice to the Supreme Court for each sitting judge over the age of 70 and 6 months. Roosevelt sought to secure a block of politically motivated judges who would overturn the Court’s previous rulings against his New Deal programs. Most recently, in the case of New York State Pistol & Rifle Association, Inc., et al., v. City of New York, New York, et al., five Democratic Senators—Sheldon Whitehouse, Mazie Hirono, Richard Blumenthal, Dick Durbin, and Kirsten Gillibrand—filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court. The final paragraph of the brief read, “The Supreme Court is not well. And the people know it. Perhaps the Court can heal itself before the public demands it be “‘restructured in order to reduce the influence of politics.’” This prompted intense backlash; Justice Samuel Alito rebuked the senators’ brief in his speech at the Federalist Society’s 2020 National Lawyers Convention, declaring: “It was an affront to the Constitution and the rule of law.” The threat by five senators to ‘restructure’ the court, should it fail to rule as they wish, is a blatant transgression against the independence of the judiciary and establishes a pernicious precedent that risks the total failure of checks and balances.
The right similarly has their fair share of meddling in the non-partisanship of the courts. Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings gained national infamy as they quickly descended into partisan bickering. Kavanaugh came off as “unhinged,” according to Richard Wolffe of The Guardian, accusing Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee of “a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about President Trump and the 2016 election.” This kind of explicit partisanship runs counter to the practice of principled political neutrality on the bench. Moreover, Senate Republicans—led by McConnell—held over 110 judicial seats open in the waning days of Obama’s presidency to be filled by Trump appointees, according to the Center for American Progress. This underhanded behavior by McConnell understandably elicits a desire in some on the left to pack the court, however, politicians must transcend this dangerous tit for tat partisanship and work to preserve the legitimacy and independence of the Court.
In 1986 the late Justice Antonin Scalia was confirmed in the Senate unanimously, in 1993 the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was confirmed by a vote of 96 to 3. To do justice to the Constitution and the independence of the courts, we must strive to return to a mindset where nominees, despite differences in judicial philosophy, are judged by their merits and not their perceived policy stances. Administrations should nominate non-partisan, upstanding people who have a record of apolitical and principled behavior. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist No. 78, “This independence of the judges is equally requisite to guard the Constitution and the rights of individuals.”
Election Laws Need to Change:
November 9, 2020
President Trump’s loss to presumed President-Elect Joseph Biden has resulted in a whirlwind of lawsuits, alleging misconduct regarding mail-in ballots. One of the central cases on the Supreme Court’s docket is Republican Party of Pennsylvania v. Kathy Boockvar, Secretary of Pennsylvania, et al. This case highlights the deeply flawed state of America’s voting system and offers insight into how we ought to adjust our system to accommodate the changes of the 21st century and ensure maximized enfranchisement within the U.S.
The Boockvar case involves a petition for a writ of certiorari, judicial review of a decision made by a lower court or agency, by the Pennsylvania GOP in response to a ruling by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania that ballots would be treated as timely if they were postmarked before, or the day of the election, provided that they arrived within three days of the election.
The Pennsylvania GOP’s case relies on two key arguments. First, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has no constitutional right to interfere in the state legislature’s planning of the election (the legislature required that mail-in ballots be received on election day by 8 p.m.). And second, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision violates Title 3 of the U.S. Code, Chapter 1, Sections 1, 2 (relating to the date for selecting electors for the president and vice president). While no decision has been made on this case yet, the Supreme Court did deny a motion to expedite consideration of the case prior to the election.
Justice Alito, joined by Justice Thomas and Justice Gorsuch, wrote: “there is a strong likelihood that the State Supreme Court decision violates the Federal Constitution.” Justice Alito holds that the Constitution entrusts power to the state legislatures to determine the manner of elections, not state courts. He referenced Article 1 Section 4 Clause 1 of the Federal Constitution which says that state legislatures are to determine the time, place and manner of Federal elections. The two arguments against the Pennsylvania Court’s extension of the deadline coalesce into one argument as Article 2 Section 1 Clause 4 of the Federal Constitution gives the Federal Congress the right to determine the time for choosing electors. In 1844 Congress did this which is outlined in the aforementioned section of Title 3 of the U.S. Code. I tend to agree with Justice Alito, as the Federal Constitution and the Federal Code grant all of the authority to state legislatures, not state courts.
The Boockvar case has elucidated a dire need for election law reform at the Federal level. Since 1992 more people have been voting by mail and early every year, according to the MIT Election Lab. This signals the necessity for legislation that creates a universal standard for these practices. Different state legislatures in different states will choose different allowances regarding receipt of mail-in ballots, perpetuating a system in which everyone does not have an equal opportunity to vote.
Florida’s new poll tax-esque demand for felons wishing to register to vote also exemplifies the need for reform. Florida’s amendment to their state constitution, dubbed ‘Amendment 4’ allows convicted felons who have served the terms of their sentence to vote in elections, excluding those convicted of sex offences and murders. The amendment also included a highly controversial exception, a requirement that formerly incarcerated Floridians pay all of their outstanding court debt prior to regaining their franchise. This law directly clashes with the 24th Amendment of the Federal Constitution that holds that citizens’ right to vote may not be abridged by a “failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.” Aside from the gross unconstitutionality of Amendment 4’s provision, Florida further highlights that a renewed national standard for voting and elections must be created.
Congress ought to amend Title 3 with legislation that modernizes the electoral guidelines to allow every registered voter in every state the same ability to vote. Congress should also include provisions that create a universal standard regarding the enfranchisement of felons across the nation to ensure equal access to enfranchisement in the U.S.