Tue. Feb 25th, 2020

Florida Supreme Court sides with governor on felon voter rights


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MATT: FLORIDA’S SUPREME COURT LET IT BE KNOWN THURSDAY ITS OPNION AFFIRMING EX-FELONS MUST COMPLETE ALL FINANCIAL OLIGATIONS BEFORE REGISTERING TO VOTE. THE COURT’S ADVISORY IS IN LINE WITH THE LEGISLATURE’S DECISION TO MAKE COURT FEES A PREREQUISITE FOR THE RESOTRATION OF RIGHTS. THE OPNION KEEPS IN PLACE THE REQUIREMENT FOR FEES A RESTITUTION, WHICH CAN BE COSTLY, FOR NOW. BUT PEOPLE WHO SUPPORT VOTING RIGHTS RESTORATION SAY THIS ROBS EX-FELONS FROM THE NEW RIGHT GIVEN TO THEM BY FLORIDA VOTERS WHO APPROVED AMENDMENT 4. >> IT IS BUSINESS AS USUAL, AND WHAT THAT MEANS IS WE FOCUS ON THE LIVES OF PEOPLE. MATT: DESMOND MEAD RUNS THE FLORIDA RIGHTS RESTORATION COALITION. THE GROUP BACKED AMENDMENT 4 IN 2018. NOW, THE COALITION COTNINUES TO WORK ON IMPLEMENTING IT, DESPITE THE UNFORSEEN MOVE TO MAKE MONEY PART OF THE EQUATION. >> RIGHT NOW, WE HAVE TWO AMAZING OPPORTUNITIES, ONE IS THROUGH THE COURT SYSTEM TO GET THE SENTENCES MODIFIED AND WE ALSO HAVE A FINES AND FEES CAMPAIGN THAT HAS SO FAR RAISED OVER 300,000 DOLLARS SO PEOPLE CAN PAY UP. MATT: THE COURT CITED AN ABUNDANCE OF STATUTORY AND CASE LAW SUPPORTS THE CONCLUSION THAT FINES, RESTITUTION, AND FEES AND COSTS ALL COMFORTABLY FIT WITH THE ORDINARY MEANING OF ALL TERMS OF SENTENCE TO SUPPORT ITS ADVISORY OPINION. ONE JUSTICE DID OFFER DISSENT ON ONE POINT OF CONTENTION THOUGH, WHETHER FLORIDA VOTERS HAD FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS IN MIND AS PART OF A SENTENCE WHEN THEY CAST THEIR VOTE. GOVERNOR RON DESATNIS ASKED THE COURT TO WEIGH IN ON THIS ISSUE. THE COURT’S ADVISORY OPINION FAR FROM SETTLES CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS HAVE CHALLENGED THE LEGISLATURE’S LAW IN FEDER

Florida Supreme Court sides with governor on felon voter rights

The Florida Supreme Court is siding with Gov. Ron DeSantis in a legal dispute over restoring voting rights to felons with unpaid fines. Related video above: Will Florida’s former felons be able to vote in the 2020 primary?The court says in advisory opinion that only felons who have fully completed their sentences can regain access to the ballot box under the voter approved ballot measure known as Amendment 4. The court says a completed sentence means all outstanding financial obligations must have also been satisfied. The opinion released Thursday has no immediate legal consequence but could influence ongoing legal action.Voter rights advocacy groups have sued the state in federal court. The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later this month will hear oral arguments in the lawsuit in which a U.S. district judge in Tallahassee ruled in October that felons who truly cannot afford to pay fines and fees should be allowed to register to vote In December, that same judge said the 17 plaintiffs in the suit should register so they can vote in the March presidential preference primary but, for now, the December order affects only the plaintiffs, not all former felons. The Associated Press contributed to this report

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. —

The Florida Supreme Court is siding with Gov. Ron DeSantis in a legal dispute over restoring voting rights to felons with unpaid fines.

Related video above: Will Florida’s former felons be able to vote in the 2020 primary?

The court says in advisory opinion that only felons who have fully completed their sentences can regain access to the ballot box under the voter approved ballot measure known as Amendment 4.

The court says a completed sentence means all outstanding financial obligations must have also been satisfied.

The opinion released Thursday has no immediate legal consequence but could influence ongoing legal action.

Voter rights advocacy groups have sued the state in federal court.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals later this month will hear oral arguments in the lawsuit in which a U.S. district judge in Tallahassee ruled in October that felons who truly cannot afford to pay fines and fees should be allowed to register to vote

In December, that same judge said the 17 plaintiffs in the suit should register so they can vote in the March presidential preference primary but, for now, the December or

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