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Dear Florida: stop banning people who've served their time from voting. Love, Federal Judge

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Florida federal district court judge Mark Walker has ruled that Gov. Rick Scott’s deliberately discriminatory re-enfranchisement process for people who have committed felonies is unconstitutional.

In a strongly worded ruling seen as a rebuke of Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is the lead defendant in the case, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the disenfranchisement of felons who have served their time is "nonsensical" and a violation of the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Although nearly every state bars incarcerated criminals from voting, only Florida and three others — Iowa, Kentucky and Virginia — do not automatically restore voting rights at the completion of a criminal sentence.

It’d be hard to interpret the ruling as anything but a pointed criticism of Gov. Scott—and a big win for the Fair Elections Legal Network.

Scott was the principal architect of the current system that requires all felons to wait at least five years after they complete their sentences, serve probation and pay all restitution, to apply for right to vote and other civil rights.

Scott and the Cabinet, meeting as a clemency board, consider cases four times a year, and usually fewer than 100 cases each time. It can take a decade or longer for a case to be heard, and at present the state has a backlog of more than 10,000 cases.

If Scott’s system for re-enfranchisement sounds obscenely partisan—well, that’s the idea.

Scott imposed the restrictions in 2011, soon after he was elected, with the support of three fellow Republicans who serve on the Cabinet, including Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, now a leading candidate for governor.

Scott's actions in 2011 reversed a policy under which many felons, not including murderers and sex offenders, had their rights restored without application process and hearings. That streamlined process was instituted in 2007 by former Gov. Charlie Crist, then a Republican and now a Democratic member of Congress.

Judge Walker’s opinion oozes incredulity.

In Florida, elected, partisan officials have extraordinary authority to grant or withhold the right to vote from hundreds of thousands of people without any constraints, guidelines, or standards. The question now is whether such a system passes constitutional muster. It does not.

Walker lambasts Scott for licensing discrimination on the basis of race, religion and political views.

Defendants essentially argue that vote-restoration for former felons can only occur on the state’s terms. Once a felon loses the right to vote, only the state may grant it back in a manner of its choosing. Id. A person convicted of a crime may have long ago exited the prison cell and completed probation. Her voting rights, however, remain locked in a dark crypt. Only the state has the key—but the state has swallowed it. Only when the state has digested and passed that key in the unforeseeable future—maybe in five years, maybe in 50—along with the possibility of some virus-laden stew of viewpoint discrimination and partisan, religious, or racial bias, does the state in an “act of mercy,” unlock the former felon’s voting rights from its hiding place.

NB: Judge Walker uses “her” as a default pronoun. I appreciate you, sir.

Walker also drops a delightfully trenchant footnote.

It would be tomfoolery of the highest order if . . . the Constitution prohibits a state from racially discriminating in the disenfranchisement of felons but allows it to racially discriminate in the re-enfranchisement of former felons.

What’s next? Mid-February hearings that will hopefully lead to a fair—and expedient—process for re-instating the voting rights of people who’ve committed felonies. Walker’s emphasized the need for expediency, so keep your fingers crossed.

The ruling has implications well beyond Scott and Florida: Not only is Florida going to be forced to abandon its system of disenfranchisement, pending review, and not only is there now a roadmap for challenging others states’ policies—this ruling could affect up to 1.5 million Floridians who would otherwise be eligible to vote.

In 2016, Trump won the state by just 1.2 percent, winning 48.6 percent of the vote to Clinton’s 47.4 percent. In terms of voters, that margin translates to just 112,911 votes. And felon re-enfranchisement comes amidst a significant population shift: At last count 300,000 Puerto Ricans had arrived in Florida since October. Reminder: Florida has 29 electoral votes.

Walker is an Obama administration appointee. Next time you hear about a judicial nomination, consider how a Trump appointee might have ruled in a case like this on Americans’ most essential rights.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/2/2/1738189/-Dear-Florida-stop-banning-people-who-ve-served-their-time-from-voting-Love-Federal-Judge?detail=emaildkre

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Rounding up the voter base eh? Btw... the fourteenth amendment doesn't mean what the kos thinks it means.

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PkrBum wrote:Rounding up the voter base eh? Btw... the fourteenth amendment doesn't mean what the kos thinks it means.

Hey, ignoramus:

Floridatexan wrote:Florida federal district court judge Mark Walker has ruled that Gov. Rick Scott’s deliberately discriminatory re-enfranchisement process for people who have committed felonies is unconstitutional.

In a strongly worded ruling seen as a rebuke of Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who is the lead defendant in the case, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the disenfranchisement of felons who have served their time is "nonsensical" and a violation of the First and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

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Twin sons that only a muther could love


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If I were King Of The Forest  ... things like restriction of a convicted persons voting and 2nd Amendment rights should be subject to individualized due process by the sentencing court ... not a blanket due process imposed by the State legislature. And any such restrictions imposed by the court could be temporary ... for a length of X years. Or not at all depending on the nature of the crime. . That's what I'd do if I were King Of The (proverbial) Forest.

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