(TruthandLiberty.com) – In 2021, numerous GOP-led states enacted voter reform laws, including Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Georgia. Democrats and liberal activists sued, alleging voter disenfranchisement, and until now, the groups largely faced defeat in federal courts. Now, a Florida US District Court judge said parts of Florida’s new election law harm Black voters.
On Thursday, March 31, US District Judge Mark Walker, an Obama appointee, ruled the Florida legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) subtly used election rules to suppress the rights of Black voters. The law made rules on mail-in ballots and drop boxes more restrictive and essentially required voters to appear at polling places to cast their ballots. In his ruling, Walker said the law made voting harder for Black people, who are more economically disadvantaged than White people.
Mail-in Ballots at the Heart of the Debate
In his ruling, Walker wrote Florida had a long history of attacking Black constituents’ voting rights. He said that history alone justified his order that any future changes to voting laws should be subject to the Court’s approval for the next 10 years. Walker stated his opinion that Florida would continue to violate voter rights every legislative session without court oversight. It’s difficult to discern how the judge came to that conclusion under the separation of powers. Nonetheless, the ruling is likely to head to a federal appeals court.
Regarding mail-in-voting, Walker overturned the law’s provision limiting when voters could use drop boxes to submit ballots, along with a provision preventing voter groups and activists from engaging with voters waiting to cast their votes. The judge wrote the law discouraged groups from giving water and food to voters, but that’s not entirely the case. The law prohibits activists from giving people branded water and food in line. Second, Walker said the water and food provisions and others discouraged Black voters from standing in lines to cast their ballots.
Will Florida Appeal?
In 2021, Gov. DeSantis made the new law a priority ahead of the 2022 midterm elections. He said the state would appeal the case, and the law would ultimately prevail. The governor added he and lawmakers knew certain lower court judges would overturn part or all of the legislation, suggesting they are liberal judges who don’t follow the law or interpret the Constitution as the framers intended.
Once appealed, the case will head to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the 11th Circuit is among the most conservative of the 13 appeals courts in the country. The only Court higher than a Circuit Court is the US Supreme Court.
So, will Florida’s law hold up in the 11th Circuit or at the Supreme Court? Stay tuned.
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