Supreme Court Leaves in Place Florida’s Pay-to-Vote Scheme

Issues
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The U.S. Supreme Court building.
The Supreme Court of the United States in Washington D.C. Photo by Casey Atkins/Campaign Legal Center.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn an appeals court order that will prevent nearly a million Floridians from registering and voting in the August 2020 primary election. The Supreme Court stood by and let a lower court prevent otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they can’t afford to pay fines and fees.

In her dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor called the appeals court order an error, adding that the Supreme Court’s “inaction continues a trend of condoning disenfranchisement.” She was joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan. The case continues at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which has scheduled a hearing for August 18, the same day as Florida’s primary, making it too late for affected voters to participate.

This is a deeply disappointing decision, but the fight goes on to protect voter eligibility for the General Election, which will be determined by the ultimate outcome of the case.

Background on the Case

Florida’s voters have spoken loud and clear – nearly two-thirds of them supported rights restoration at the ballot box in 2018. 

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn an appeals court decision that would prevent hundreds of thousands of Floridians from registering and voting in this critical election year.

CLC sued in 2019 on behalf of three individual plaintiffs and a class of all affected Florida citizens. CLC’s suit – the only one brought as a class action – ensured that the ultimate ruling applies broadly to all voters seeking voting rights restoration in Florida.

Corey handles media relations for the CLC voting rights and redistricting teams and creates online content.