The Supreme Court ruled today to deny Florida felons the right to vote if they have not paid financial restitution relating to their crimes first. The matter was decided by a count of 6-3, with liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissenting.
Florida amended its state constitution to allow felons to vote in elections in 2018. The amendment excludes those guilty of violent crimes such as murder and rape.
It passed with nearly 65% support, and nearly 85,000 felons have registered to vote since its adoption in January 2019.
Last summer Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a measure into law that required convicted felons to pay financial restitution related to their cases. Last fall, a federal judge blocked the law, questioning its constitutionality.
“The state of Florida cannot deny restoration of a felon’s right to vote solely because the felon does not have the financial resources necessary to pay restitution,” U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle wrote.
“And because, for this purpose, there is no reason to treat restitution differently from other financial obligations included in a sentence, Florida also cannot deny restoration of a felon’s right to vote solely because the felon does not have the financial resources to pay the other financial obligations.”
The state of Florida appealed that decision and the 11th Circuit Court granted a freeze of Hinkle’s order. The Supreme Court today declined to lift that freeze.
A hearing for the pending case before the appeals court, Bonnie Raysor, et al. v Ron DeSantis, is scheduled for August.
Photo by Florida Rights Restoration Coalition