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Amendment 4 in the Courts

Update from Florida Rights Restoration Coalition

In May, a Federal Judge ruled that the state of Florida cannot use Senate Bill 7066 (SB7066) to require poor returning citizens to pay all outstanding court-ordered fines and restitution, or fees and costs, before they can register to vote.

After an appeal to the original ruling by Governor Ron DeSantis’ legal team, a United States Federal Appellate Court has agreed to review the case and has temporarily suspended the lower court’s ruling through what is called a "stay order."

A stay order is a suspension of a case or a suspension of a particular proceeding within a case. But a stay order does not automatically overturn the 11th Circuit Court’s previous decision that SB7066 is unconstitutional and essentially a pay-to-vote system aimed to further disenfranchise returning citizens. The stay order only means that the U.S. court of appeals for the 11th Circuit will review the case.

On Tuesday, August 18, 2020 opening arguments in the federal appeals court began. Attorneys representing returning citizens presented their case to the 10 judges of the U.S. 11th Circuit Court, arguing that the Florida law restricting their clients' voting rights should be overturned. A final decision in the case, which could be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, may not come before the November General Election.

This appeals process may leave many returning citizens in a state of uncertainty. For those individuals who may have financial obligations from court-ordered fines, or fees and costs, FRRC will put forth our best efforts to locate you and help so that you can also register before the October 5 deadline for the General Election.

FRRC strongly encourages all returning citizens who do not have any financial obligations, and are otherwise eligible to register and vote under Amendment 4, to make voter registration and civic engagement a top priority.

*photo is the exterior of the U.S. Courthouse for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta

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