A federal judge confirmed that any decision he issues in Florida’s rights restoration case, Jones v. DeSantis, would apply to all Floridians who would otherwise be eligible for rights restoration, but for their ability to pay off their fines and fees.
Campaign Legal Center (CLC) represents three individual plaintiffs with past felony convictions in the case, which challenges a Florida law requiring payment of fines and fees as a condition for rights restoration.
To ensure that any final ruling in the case would extend to otherwise eligible voters beyond the individual plaintiffs in the case, CLC brought the lawsuit as a class action, and filed a motion for class certification last fall. Judge Robert Hinkle granted the motion. The case goes to trial on April 27, 2020. CLC and our partners are currently planning to conduct the trial remotely
The decision makes clear that whatever the outcome of the trial, it will apply broadly to hundreds of thousands of voters seeking rights restoration in Florida.
This is significant because roughly 80% of Florida voters whose rights were restored by Amendment 4 have outstanding fines and fees associated with their sentencing.
The Florida law conditioning rights restoration on payment of restitution, fines, and fees penalizes citizens who face financial hardship while only re-enfranchising those who can afford to pay.
Inability to pay should never be a barrier to the ballot box, and the state must provide a uniform process that gives all Floridians with past felony convictions access to voting, without discriminating on the basis of wealth..