The U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a slew of massive decisions in recent weeks.
The court made headlines again this week with a 6-3 ruling declining to allow some Florida felons the ability to vote if they have not paid fees, restitution, and other fines pertaining to their cases according to state requirements.
The Supreme Court rejected a request to lift an appeals court order that prevents Florida felons from voting in the state’s upcoming primary elections without first paying court fees and restitution.
Liberal Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan dissented from the decision.
“The application to vacate stay presented to Justice Thomas and by him referred to the Court is denied,” the order reads. “Justice Sotomayor, with whom Justice Ginsburg and Justice Kagan join, dissenting from denial of application to vacate stay.”
“This Court’s order prevents thousands of otherwise eligible voters from participating in Florida’s primary election simply because they are poor,” Sotomayor wrote in the dissent, characterizing the decision as one that “continues a trend of condoning disfranchisement.”
In 2018, Florida voters amended their state constitution to allow felons to vote in elections, excluding those guilty of violent crimes such as murder and rape.
The amendment was passed with nearly 65% support from voters. Approximately 85,000 felons have registered to vote in the state since the policy became codified in January 2019.
In the summer of 2019, Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a measure that required felons to pay financial obligations related to their cases, including restitution. In the fall, a federal judge blocked the law, questioning its constitutionality.
“The state of Florida cannot deny restoration of a felon’s right to vote solely because the felon does not have the financial resources necessary to pay restitution,” U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle wrote. “And because, for this purpose, there is no reason to treat restitution differently from other financial obligations included in a sentence, Florida also cannot deny restoration of a felon’s right to vote solely because the felon does not have the financial resources to pay the other financial obligations.”
The Examiner report continued:
Hinkle’s initial decision required the state to set up a process that allows felons to vote if they are found unable to pay their fines. In May, Hinkle ruled the law and process adopted were part of a “pay to vote system.” The state appealed the decision, and the 11th Circuit Court granted a freeze of Hinkle’s order in favor of DeSantis’s push for the law.
The appeals court has a hearing scheduled to resolve the case, Bonnie Raysor, et al. v Ron DeSantis, in August.
The Supreme Court delivered a massive ruling on Monday that is a major victory for those who support the Electoral College.
Earlier this week, the nation’s highest court delivered a 7-2 ruling to allow religious schools to fire religion teachers for any reason they wish.
The ruling is a major expansion of protections for religious institutions against nondiscrimination laws.
The Court delivered a unanimous decision that states can legally punish “faithless” electors — those who formally cast the votes for president of the United States but go against the majority of their state.
The unanimous 9-0 decision is a victory for states that worried about rogue electors could disrupt future elections.