Appeals Court Delays Changes to Florida’s System to Restore Felon Voting Rights
“The First Amendment provides no additional protection of the right to vote.”
Last month, the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida issued a stay on Florida’s system to restore voting rights for felons. The court then ordered Republican Governor Rick Scott and three Cabinet members to adopt a new system by April 26 to allow convicted felons to vote.
The US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit blocked the ruling and decided the state does not have to immediately adopt a new system to restore the voting rights of convicted felons.
The Florida clemency board had planned an emergency meeting Wednesday evening to discuss changes to its system for restoring voting rights, but canceled it after the 11th Circuit’s ruling.
Former felons in Florida can request to have their voting rights restored, but there is no guarantee it will happen (some other states restore voting rights automatically). In fact, Florida is just one of four states that permanently disenfranchises people who commit a felony by default. After a waiting period, people who have entirely completed their sentences can apply to get their voting rights restored by the state’s executive clemency board ― which consists of the governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner and the state’s chief investment officer.
The clemency board consists of Scott and three members of his Cabinet. They meet four times a year, which is when they “consider requests by convicted felons to regain specific rights, including the right to vote.”
US District Judge Mark Walker ruled that Florida’s system to restore votings was unconstitutional since “it gave ‘unfettered discretion’ to the governor who has the power to grant or deny voting rights for any reason.” The appellees claimed the system violated the First and Fourteenth Amendment.
Well, the 11th Circuit Court ruled that “[T]he Fourteenth Amendment expressly empowers the states to abridge a convicted felon’s right to vote.” The court also wrote that “[B]inding precedent holds that the Governor has broad discretion to grant and deny clemency, even when the applicable regime lacks any standards.”
The court also noted that that “the First Amendment provides no additional protection of the right to vote.”
In the ruling, the judges concluded “the State Executive Clemency Board has shown it will likely succeed on the merits of the Equal Protection claim.” While the appellees claim this violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, the appeals court pointed out the appellees have not said “that the defendants actually discriminated against any of them on the basis of race or any other invidious grounds.”
“Rather, the heart of their claim is that the State Executive Clemency Board’s unbounded discretion will yield an unacceptable ‘risk’ of unlawful discrimination,” the court wrote.
Judges Stanley Marcus, appointed by President Bill Clinton, William Pryor, appointed by President George W. Bush, and Beverly Martin, appointed by President Barack Obama, sit on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
These judges issued the ruling and “concurred with the opinion in part and dissented in part.” Marcus wrote the decision on behalf of the majority.
Scott’s office is happy with the decision. From Tampa Bay Times:
“We are glad that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the lower court’s reckless ruling,” Scott’s office said. “Judges should interpret the law, not create it.”
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.
damn… common sense from appeals court judges.
what is the world coming to?
“Well, the 11th Circuit Court ruled that “[T]he Fourteenth Amendment expressly empowers the states to abridge a convicted felon’s right to vote.” The court also wrote that “[B]inding precedent holds that the Governor has broad discretion to grant and deny clemency, even when the applicable regime lacks any standards…”
A judge actually reading the Constitution to see if a law is in accordance with it. How quaint.
Good. Though I would go further and say that as far as the US constitution is concerned a governor’s right of clemency is completely unrestricted, just as is the president’s right, and like the president he can be as arbitrary and as capricious as he likes, including discriminating by race if he chooses to do so. There seems to be no question that a racist president is entitled to adopt a policy of pardoning only white criminals and never black ones, and the only remedy for this is impeachment. It seems to me that the same must be true for state governors, unless the state constitution says otherwise.
Actually, the 15th Amendment prohibits denying a person the right to vote based upon color or race and the 19th prohibits the same on the basis of sex. So, the governor of a state can not use either race or sex as a basis to deny reinstatement of voting rights.
BS. The person is being denied the franchise because of his felony, which is perfectly constitutional. The governor is entitled to restore it, or to decline to do so, for any reason he likes, including race. If the legislature doesn’t like it, it can impeach him.
I strongly suggest that you read the text of the 15th Amendment.
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.
The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
This Amendment is similar in construction to the 2nd Amendment. It states clearly and unequivocally that the right to vote may not be abridged on account of race. So, though that right has been abridged by the conviction for a felony criminal offense, a state may not refuse to reinstate that right based in any way upon the race of the person involved.
The language of the 19th is similar and would preclude denying the reinstatement of voting rights based upon sex.
That is garbage. The right is not being abridged on account of race, it’s being abridged, quite properly, on account of felony. There is no right whatsoever to have the franchise restored. The governor may choose to restore it, but his failure to do so does not constitute a further abridgment, because you can’t abridge something that doesn’t exist; at this point the person has no right to vote, therefore it can’t be abridged.
And the same thing applies to the second amendment; felons have lost their RKBA, the governor may choose to restore it but he doesn’t have to, and he can make that decision on any grounds he pleases, including race, looks, political opinion, or even willingness to pay him for it. His reasons for pardoning or not pardoning a person are none of any court’s business; the legislature may choose to make it their business, or they may choose not to.
*sigh* Let me walk you through the logic here.
Yes, the right to vote has been lawfully abridged for felons. However, once the process begins to restore that right, then the government has to do one of two things. It has to either decide not to restore that right, without comment, or it has to presents reasons for not restoring that right. If it chooses the latter route, then it can no cite the race of the petitioner as a reason NOT to restore the right to vote, as this would be a clear violation of the 15th Amendment. Understand?
Whether the right to vote is legally abridged by conviction for a felony or not is irrelevant. If the only reason for not restoring it is the race, of the applicant, this is unconstitutional abridgement of the right to vote.
Now, the 2nd Amendment is somewhat different. It allows no infringement of a person’s right to own or possess firearms. While a person is incarcerated, a case can be made for infringing upon that right on the basis that the convicted criminal is a ward of the state and, as such, the state has the authority to deny the incarcerated criminal access to any number of things, including access to a weapon. The legal status of the incarcerated is analogous to that of a child with the state in loco parentis. However, once the incarcerated criminal is released from prison and is off reasonable probation, then he is no longer a ward of the state and the state can not infringe upon his right to keep and bear arms. There is NO language anywhere in the 2nd Amendment which allows the state to infringe upon the right to keep and bear arms.
Is my point clear?
You can repeat it as often as you like, but it’s still the same bulldust.
No, it is not. You are simply out of your mind. Refusing to give someone a right is not abridging it. You can’t abridge something that doesn’t exist.
And yet the governor (or president in the case of a federal prisoner) can pardon him, and can do so even on an explicitly racial basis, and yet his refusal to pardon other prisoners, and thus restore their RKBA, doesn’t constitute infringing it.
To repeat a point I made the last time this came up, there is no constitutional right to vote, but there is such a right to walk free. Therefore a governor’s power to restore felons’ franchise cannot be more restricted than his power to let them out of prison. Whatever restrictions you put on the former must certainly apply to the latter. And nobody seems to dispute that the latter power is in fact completely unrestricted (except as provided by the state constitution), so the former power must be similarly unrestricted.
How could anyone possibly object to this, or even disagree with it? Whoever downvoted this is apparently incapable of understanding basic logic.
Yeah, I hit you hard sometimes, but you nailed this one.
In fact, I came here to post the exact same point and saw you’d beaten me to it.
So the court recognized that some of its progressive brethren were well on their way of making the Constitution unconstitutional.
Seems to be a battle that doesn’t need to be fought though.
Once the felon has done their time their voting rights should be restored automatically. All this issue is doing is giving Democrats the chance to get on their outrage horse!
The overwhelming majority of citizens in most states have disagreed with you on this for the entire history of the Republic.
In fact, they ought to be ADDING felony types that result in life-time loss of voting PRIVELEGES (its NOT a Right).
Specifically, anyone convicted of voter fraud, which typically caries trivial penalties and minimal, if any, jail time ought to be prohibited from voting for life.
Bad people do change for the better sometimes. I could support returning a felon’s voting rights – if he/she goes 10 years (15? 20?) post-release from prison without a new conviction.
Texas is one of several states that simply will not expunge a felony conviction. The governor can pardon, but that is vanishingly rare.
I’d support a total expungement after ten years of being a sound citizen. Or even Henry…!!!
Proud to say I’ve gone 34 years now without a conviction! Still have a few cases pending, but things look good.
Meanwhile democrats are in all the cemetery’s registering voters.
Let’s remember: some murderers are not getting much time. No restoration for them please.