Sunday, September 20, 2020
Home Global Florida can bar ex-felons from voting if they owe court payments, appeals...

Florida can bar ex-felons from voting if they owe court payments, appeals court rules

Washington (CNN)Florida can bar ex-felons from voting if they owe court fines or fees associated with their convictions, even if they are unable to pay, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The 6-4 ruling by the full 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling blocking the law.
The law, Chief Judge William Pryor wrote in the majority opinion, doesn’t constitute a poll tax. Instead, “it promotes full rehabilitation of returning citizens and ensures full satisfaction of the punishment imposed for the crimes by which felons forfeited the right to vote.”
“That criminal sentences often include financial obligations does not make this requirement a ‘capricious or irrelevant factor,'” Pryor wrote. “Monetary provisions of a sentence are no less a part of the penalty that society imposes for a crime than terms of imprisonment. Indeed, some felons face substantial monetary penalties but little or no prison time.”
The ruling, issued less than two months before the presidential election, marks another chapter in the extensive court battle over the law in a state President Donald Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court said Florida can enforce the law while the legal case over its constitutionality plays out, meaning the rule would likely be in place for the November elections.
Friday’s ruling overturns a decision from US District Court Robert Hinkle, who had said the Florida law, in respect to those people who are unable to pay, violates the Constitution. Hinkle called the state’s procedure an “unconstitutional pay-to-vote system.”
Convicted felons in Florida had their voting rights restored with a constitutional amendment that passed in November 2018. Amendment 4, which allowed convicted felons who complete “all terms of sentence” the right to vote, passed with nearly 65% of the vote, exceeding the 60% threshold required.
After Amendment 4 went into effect in January 2019, the GOP-led Florida Legislature passed, and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed, a bill that clarified “all terms of sentence” to include legal financial obligations such as fines, fees and restitution.
Multiple groups, including the Campaign Legal Center and American Civil Liberties Union, filed a flurry of legal challenges arguing the new law was unconstitutional and amounted to a “poll tax.”
Paul Smith, vice president at the Campaign Legal Center, called Friday’s decision “deeply disappointing.”
“While the full rights restoration envisioned by Amendment 4 has become less likely to be realized this fall, we will continue this fight for all Florida voters, so the full benefits of Amendment 4 will someday be realized,” Smith said in a statement, adding that “nobody should ever be denied their constitutional rights because they can’t afford to pay fines and fees.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Australia reports lowest coronavirus cases in three months: Live – Al Jazeera English

Australia reported 14 new cases on Sunday - the lowest daily increase in new coronavirus cases in three months as strict lockdown in Melbourne reduces infections sharply. Brazil and Argentina have announced that they are joining a global alliance seeking to pool the purchase and distribution of future COVID-19 vaccines. Despite threats of heavy fines…

Uptick in L.A. County’s COVID-19 case rate raises concerns over increased transmission during Labor Day holiday – KTLA Los Angeles

by: Nouran Salahieh Posted: Sep 19, 2020 / 05:43 PM PDT / Updated: Sep 19, 2020 / 05:43 PM PDT People gather on the beach on the second day of the Labor Day weekend amid a heatwave in Santa Monica on Sept. 6, 2020. (APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images) After weeks of improvement, a recent…

Joe Biden said in 2016 that it is a president’s ‘constitutional duty’ to fill a SCOTUS seat

Joe Biden is accused of hypocrisy after a 2016 op-ed emerged in which he slammed Republicans for holding up a Supreme Court appointment, stating that it is the 'constitutional duty' of a president to nominate if a vacancy becomes available.  He made the comments in a March 2016 op-ed with the New York Times, in which he…

TikTok Ban Averted: Trump Gives Oracle-Walmart Deal His ‘Blessing’

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in July. Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images hide caption toggle caption Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of…