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Appellate Judges Scoff at Each Other After Court Declines New Challenge to Florida Voting Integrity Law

Appellate Judges Scoff at Each Other After Court Declines New Challenge to Florida Voting Integrity Law

Judges supporting the denial called the dissenters’ claims “meritless” and “histrionic.” The dissenters fired back, arguing the denial “hamper[ed] the ability of voters to seek the protections promised them by our Constitution.”

Several federal appellate judges published a “histrionic [dramatic] dissent,” according to their colleagues, after the appeals court refused to rehear a challenge to a Florida election integrity law. A three-judge panel of the same court previously upheld large portions of the law, and the dissenters opposed the court’s decision to deny a rehearing by all 12 court members.

That panel decision came after a lower court issued an injunction blocking several provisions of the law, finding the legislature enacted them to discriminate based on race.

The lower court’s injunction blocked three provisions of the law, as Legal Insurrection reported: ballot drop box monitoring and hours of operations requirements, a prohibition on soliciting voters at a polling place or drop box, and a mandate that voter registration forms gathered by third parties be delivered to election officials within two weeks.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which includes Florida, decided by an unpublished vote to deny the rehearing request on September 21. Several judges, however, signaled their vote by publishing opinions respecting the denial.

Chief Judge William Pryor and two others penned an opinion supporting the denial and castigating the opposition for their “histrionic dissent.” Pryor took the dissenting judges to task for their criticism of the law and support of the lower court’s decision:

What are the supposedly racist provisions that the district judge enjoined officials from enforcing? They are unremarkable, race-neutral policies designed to bolster election security, maintain order at the polls, and ensure that voter registration forms are delivered on time.

The dissenters alleged the panel judges failed to consider the historical record when assessing the intent of the legislature, accusing the judges of deeming such evidence “irrelevant.”

Pryor rebutted this accusation, arguing the court merely refused to allow “the old, outdated intentions of previous generations” dating back to the Civil War “to taint Florida’s legislative action forevermore.”

“Past discrimination,” Pryor continued, “is relevant, but historical background” is only one source of evidence that should not “be overweighed.”

We acknowledge that laws affect people differently across political and socioeconomic lines. But that fact does not make every historical event that contributed to disparities among racial groups relevant to an analysis of discriminatory intent on the part of a particular legislature.

Examining the legislative record, Pryor found “a stark lack of evidence of discriminatory intent of the present Florida legislature.”

“To the contrary,” Pryor argued, “recent history shows that, as Florida has become increasingly racially diverse, its elections have become increasingly open and accessible.”

The dissenters also accused the court of giving too much credence to the legislature’s stated justifications for the law, which the lower court found were mere pretexts for racial discrimination. Prior, however, argued the justifications were entitled to a presumption of validity absent evidence to the contrary:

[T]he legislators’ justifications—election security and preventing voter fraud—were presumptively lawful and credible, and the district court clearly erred by finding otherwise. The sponsors and supporters of [the law] repeatedly asserted that they were motivated by concerns of electoral integrity.

The dissenters disagreed, citing the lower court’s finding of “conflicting” justifications among the legislators’ support for the law.

The judges also disagreed about how to treat the lower court’s factual findings, which are given great deference on appeal because of the lower court’s ability to make credibility determinations of “eyewitness testimony.” The dissenters accused the court of usurping the proper role of the lower court by not deferring to that court’s factual findings.

Pryor, however, noted that the panel judges took issue not with facts presented during “eyewitness testimony” but with “mathematical facts” the lower court misconstrued:

If a district judge found that two plus two equals ten, we would lose no sleep over reversing for clear error, even if the judge relied on the testimony of a college mathematics professor. And reversing in such an instance would certainly not be “usurp[ing] the authority” of the district court to “weigh the merits of the expert testimony.”

The appeals court decision:


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ok in English … mono syllable if possible
what does this mean.

    The Gentle Grizzly in reply to jqusnr. | September 28, 2023 at 9:23 am

    As far as I can tell, it means some of the judges found race discrimination in perfectly reasonable rules. The others did not.

    And stuff.

    Or something.

    Cleetus in reply to jqusnr. | September 28, 2023 at 9:27 am

    It means that the creation of provisions meant to stop others from cheating thereby allowing for fair elections is not racist.

      Full_American_Immigrant in reply to Cleetus. | September 28, 2023 at 11:00 am

      The dissenters,
      — Adalberto Jordan – Obama
      — Jill Pryor – Obama
      — Charles Wilson – Clinton

      Of the other six judges, five appointed by Trump, one by George Bush.

      “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” CJ John Roberts said on 11/21/18. “What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.”


    herm2416 in reply to jqusnr. | September 28, 2023 at 9:37 am

    No kidding.

    CommoChief in reply to jqusnr. | September 28, 2023 at 10:26 am

    It means the majority of the 11th Circuit told the dissent and the plaintiffs to pound sand. What really has the d/prog activists upset is the very clear expression by the Chief Jidge, Pryor, that plaintiffs can’t come into CT half stepping with claims about racism, disparate impact or discrimination re voting laws that are neutral in application by simply alleging it. They have to offer specific proof of intent and actual harm. The previously accepted reasons of ‘past discrimination’ doesn’t cut it anymore. That’s the real reason the activists in and out of the Judiciary are PO, b/c the plaintiffs will have to actually make a case v being given the benefit of the doubt out is some misguided application of societal collective guilt.

      The refutation of “some people in the same building as you once did something wrong, so we must forever presume wrongness” was the best part of that, IMO.

    Milhouse in reply to jqusnr. | September 28, 2023 at 10:27 am

    It means that the district court judge, and (thankfully) a minority on the 11th circuit, are bigoted against the Florida legislature, and think that since some past legislatures were racist, therefore everything the current legislature must be presumed to be motivated by racist intentions, and the worst construction must be put on whatever it does. If they treated black litigants that way there’d be outrage.

      What do you think the dissenting Justices were trying to convey by their repeated use of the word “holistic” to favorably characterize the district court judge’s evaluation and analysis of evidence?

        Milhouse in reply to Q. | September 28, 2023 at 10:09 pm

        “Holistic” means taking everything into account. What they want taken into account is that different legislatures that a different electorate elected generations ago were openly racist, so that elevates the chance that this legislature is also racist.

        Why not also take the legislators’ horoscopes into account, as well as the fact that Florida used to be Spanish and the Spaniards were terrible racists, and also Florida has alligators which eat black people if they get a chance (just as they eat everything else if they get a chance)?

    artichoke in reply to jqusnr. | September 28, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    District judge found that parts of very ordinary election integrity law were racist.
    Appeals court 3 judge panel overruled that judge and said the law is OK.
    Those against integrity asked for en-banc (12 judge) rehearing of the case.
    This was declined in the current ruling on a split vote, with the two sides doing a lot of sniping at each other.

No surprise. The Courts have used race to strike down public policy for the past 50 years if that policy was objectionable to Democrats but not unconstitutional.

seek the protections promised them by our Constitution
Like…. what? The only protections the Constitution gives is 18+ and no discrimination is allowed on the basis of race or sex. That’s pretty much it.

And I think a lot of the “get more people to vote” stuff violates the Constitution. (I know court decisions have said otherwise, but that doesn’t make it true.)

failed to consider the historical record when assessing the intent of the legislature
So, any prior discrimination makes all measures into the future – despite the change of personnel several times over – susceptible to “intent” issues? Wow. I’ve known people with an attitude like that, and they are horribly abusive and awful folks.

which the lower court found were mere pretexts for racial discrimination
And, again, this is the crap abusive people pull. Everything is a pretext for the bludgeon the abuser uses against the abused.

finding of “conflicting” justifications
So, there can’t be multiple justifications from different people? So, pretty much all that “diversity” stuff is right out the window. Nothing can ever have but one justification. Oof.

If a district judge found that two plus two equals ten
This sounds relevant to a recent decision in NY….

    Milhouse in reply to GWB. | September 28, 2023 at 10:29 am

    It’s not even as if it were the same legislators. It’s the same state, but the legislature changes regularly. How can the thoughts and motivations of legislators 20 or 40 or 100 years ago be relevant to those of today’s legislators?

      Mainly because that’s how it works in a Cultural Revolution.

      CommoChief in reply to Milhouse. | September 28, 2023 at 11:05 am

      The same reason it took the Shelby County decision to end decades of the DoJ ‘monitoring’ and demanding ‘pre clearance’ for proposed changes to elections laws across the South and a few Counties in the North with activist do gooder Judges supervising and intervening. All of it based on the actions and culture of pre Civil rights era legislatures and politicians.

      In sum b/c it was a way to put a thumb on the scales to advance the agenda and keep a very real variety of ‘reconstruction’ alive, in ideology and practical outcome anyway. Shelby County v Holder was decided a very short decade ago and the grievance grifters/race hustlers and their useful idiot allies have been PO ever since that they can’t wield those weapons anymore against what they seem to perceive as the ‘backward South’ which is frankly a very real prejudiced/discriminatory viewpoint.

      gonzotx in reply to Milhouse. | September 28, 2023 at 11:38 am

      Like the constitution?

Having skimmed Judge Wilson’s dissent, I find the word “histrionic” to be generous. His dissent looks like “word salad” to me – evidence of cognitive dissonance.

There are some clues here: