Judge Tim Kelley says keeping those thousands of people from voting is unfair. But he says Louisiana's constitution and state law required him to continue denying the voting rights.
As he issued his decision Monday, Kelley said: "I don't like this ruling."
The lawsuit was filed by the group Voice of the Ex-Offender and several convicted felons deemed unable to vote. Lawyer Bill Quigley, representing the plaintiffs, says they will appeal Kelley's ruling.
Quigley argued that a 1974 state constitution provision allowing suspension of voting rights for people "under an order of imprisonment" for a felony wasn't intended to include people on probation and parole.