I was thinking about the fact that some states bar felons from voting even after they are released from prison. I also thought about whether or not it would be legal for a state to bar a former felon from representing them on those grounds. Are there such laws in place in the US, and would such laws be legal?
Can a US state bar a formerly incarcerated felon from being a member of congress?
No, the qualifications for members of Congress are set in the Constitution.
Service in Congress: Qualifications for Holding Office
Indictment and/or conviction of a crime that is a felony does not constitutionally disqualify one from being a Member of Congress (nor from being a candidate for a future Congress), unless a Member’s conviction is for certain treasonous conduct committed after taking an oath of office to support the Constitution. There are only three qualifications for congressional office, which are set out in the United States Constitution at Article I, Section 2, clause 2, for Representatives (and Article I, Section 3, clause 3 for Senators): age, citizenship, and inhabitancy in the state when elected. These constitutional qualifications are the exclusive qualifications for being a Member of Congress, and they may not be altered or added to by Congress or by any state unilaterally. Once a person meets those constitutional qualifications, that person, if elected, is constitutionally “qualified” to serve in Congress, even if under indictment or a convicted felon.