TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The U.S. Supreme Court has declined a request by the League and others to lift the hold that an appellate court placed on a recent court victory. In May, a lower court ruled in the League’s favor, ensuring that hundreds of thousands of felons could vote. But, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals put a temporary hold on that decision during the State’s appeal, and by leaving that hold in place, the Supreme Court’s ruling means that at least in the August primary, many people will be prevented from voting.
“This Court’s order prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor,” Justice Sotomayor wrote in the dissent of the decision. Sotomayor’s order goes on to state that this decision “continues a trend of condoning disfranchisement.” Justice Ginsburg and Justice Kagan joined Sotomayor in dissent. The League of Women Voters of Florida echoes the disappointment expressed in the dissenting opinion.
“The League has been clear since the beginning of this case that a citizen’s bank account should never be what determines whether they can participate in our democracy,” said Patricia Brigham, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “This ruling is equally disappointing and shocking as the state of Florida does not have records of how much most persons with felony convictions owe, essentially encouraging the disenfranchisement to continue without a required solution.”
“Our fight to ensure the state of Florida properly implements what its voters decided when voting for the passage of Amendment 4 is not over,” Brigham continued. “The Supreme Court’s ruling on this order does not end this case.” The case continues in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which has scheduled a hearing for August 18, the same day as Florida’s primary. The decision for the hearing date makes it too late for affected voters to participate in the primary election.
“The League has trained a number of volunteers who will be conducting outreach via phone, text message and a postcard campaign to persons with prior felony convictions without legal financial obligations who are eligible to vote no matter the circumstance this current case presents,” said Cecile Scoon, 1st Vice President of the Florida League. “While we are awaiting the final ruling of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, we will continue our work with grit and determination.”