Breaking: Federal Court Sets Expedited Telephonic Hearing in CLC’s Challenge to the New Florida Poll Tax on Ex-Felons

scales of justice in a courtroom

On Tuesday, July 2, 2019, a federal court announced a telephonic hearing on Campaign Legal Center’s (CLC) challenge to the constitutionality of Florida law SB 7066 on Friday, July 5.

Danielle Lang, co-director, voting rights & redistricting will participate in the hearing. 

The expedited hearing is a sign that the court understands the urgency of addressing Florida citizens’ rights to restore their vote. 

In 2018, Florida voters overwhelmingly supported Amendment 4, which restored the right to millions who had served a previous felony conviction. However, pn June 28, 2019, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed SB 7066 into law, which unconstitutionally requires the payment of all associated outstanding fines, fees and restitution to vote again. 

The impact of SB 7066 is simple: those with the financial ability to pay these fees will have their rights restored, while those without financial means will remain disenfranchised, sometimes permanently.

Discriminating between voters based on wealth violates the Fourteenth Amendment. Conditioning the right to vote on payment on fines and fees is an unlawful poll tax under the Twenty-Fourth Amendment.

CLC represents Bonnie Raysor and Diane Sherrill in the case.

Ms. Raysor, a resident of Boynton Beach Florida, has a prior felony conviction but thought she would regain her right to vote following passage of Amendment 4. Under SB 7066, however, Ms. Raysor must pay up to $4,260 in outstanding fines and fees before she can vote. Under her current payment plan, she will not be able to vote until 2031.

You can read more about this case here, and can read more about Ms. Raysor’s story here