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Gov Loses 1st Fed Appeal Ordering New Felon Vote Restoration Process: Could End up w/Supremes

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Yesterday morning, April 4, 2018, Governor Scott and Florida’s Executive Clemency Board filed a notice of its intent to appeal the permanent injunction from U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker, ordering the state to establish a new voting rights restoration process for former felons. Earlier this year in Hand v. Scott, the Court affirmed that the 1st Amendment protects the right to vote and concluded that the process by which Florida officials grant or deny former felons’ restoration of voting rights applications is unconstitutionally arbitrary.

Federal Judge Enjoins Gov Scott From Enforcing FL's Unconstitutional Vote-Restoration Scheme March 27, 2018
Governor's Appeal is here

At 10:30 am, the Governor's Office announced: "The Attorney General’s Office has appealed Judge Walker’s ruling. People elected by Floridians should determine Florida’s clemency rules for convicted criminals, not federal judges. This process has been in place for decades and is outlined in the both the U.S. and Florida Constitutions."

Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. District Court denied the Governor's motion to stay the order for the Clemency Board to develop a constitutional scheme to restore former felons' voting rights. This means the Defendants will still have to present a new rights restoration plan by April 26 unless the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court orders otherwise.

At 9:41 pm, the Governor's Office said the following, "We completely disagree with this ruling and we will make our argument to a higher court."

The Hand v. Scott litigation team said the following:

In the year since Fair Elections Legal Network and Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC filed this lawsuit, Governor Scott and the rest of the Executive Clemency Board have had ample opportunity to reform the process to restore voting rights to former felons. Instead they have dug in their heels and defended an arbitrary and backlogged scheme that prevents people who have served their sentences from rejoining their community for years and decades.

A federal judge has found the restoration scheme violates the U.S. Constitution, noting “[t]his should not be a close question,” and recently ordered Defendants to establish a new voting rights restoration process.

Though it is the Board’s legal right to appeal, their continued resistance to adopting any uniform, non-arbitrary system for restoring voting rights betrays a brazen disregard, if not disdain, for basic principles that go to the heart of our democracy.

This case has given Florida state officials an opportunity to voluntarily change their ways, join the mainstream of America, and restore voting rights to former felons who have paid their debt to society or, at a minimum, create a non-arbitrary, expeditious rule-based system. Governor Scott and the other Defendants have rejected that opportunity, preferring to waste taxpayer dollars defending the indefensible, potentially up to the nation’s highest court. We will continue to fight for Florida ex-felons’ right to a lawful voting rights restoration system.

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