Pushing to scrap a lawful indignity

This change, although only symbolic, is long overdue. Everyone should be able to vote!

Pushing to scrap a lawful indignity

Mentally ill are ‘idiots’ in Jersey Constitution

Monday, January 08, 2007

BY SUSAN K. LIVIO

Star-Ledger Staff

It’s been more than half a century since it was socially acceptable to call a person with a developmental disability an “idiot” or a mentally incompetent person “insane.”

But that language lives on in the New Jersey Constitution.

It’s there in Article II, Section I, dealing with elections and who is eligible to vote. Paragraph 6 states: “No idiot or insane person shall enjoy the right of suffrage.”

Advocates for the mentally ill say it’s time to dispense with the archaic phrasing. Senate President Richard Codey (D-Essex) agrees, and plans today to introduce an amendment to remove it.

“Not only is it insensitive, but it does not take into account the individual circumstances of people with varying degrees of disabilities,” Codey said.

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