Federal Court Permanently Blocks Provision of Florida Law that Targeted Voter Registration and Civic Engagement by Community Organizations

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
May 15, 2024 7:00 pm

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A federal court today permanently blocked a provision of Florida law S.B. 7050 that undermines community-based organizations performing voter registration and civic engagement.

The lawsuit, Hispanic Federation v. Byrd, was filed last year by voting and immigrants’ rights advocates and specifically focuses on the law’s noncitizen provision, which would impose a $50,000 fine on an organization for each noncitizen person who “collects” or “handles” voter registration forms on its behalf.

The restrictions included lawful permanent residents, many of whom have long-time, close ties to the communities in which they reside.

Hispanic Federation and Poder Latinx, along with three individual noncitizen plaintiffs, challenged S.B. 7050. They are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Dēmos, and Arnold & Porter.

Following a trial held last month in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida, Judge Mark Walker ruled the citizenship requirement is unlawful discrimination in violation of the plaintiffs’ right to equal protection under law.

The following statements are from:

Frankie Miranda, president and CEO of Hispanic Federation: “Today’s order by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker confirms what we have been saying all along: the noncitizen provision in SB 7050 is unconstitutional, discriminatory, and goes against the very fabric of U.S. democracy. We are happy with this decision, but the truth of the matter is that we had to expend precious time and resources to file this lawsuit to protect the rights of Floridians. We hope this sends a clear message to Florida legislators, Governor DeSantis, and other states that Hispanic Federation and our partners will remain vigilant and continue fighting against attempts to restrict voting rights and upend democracy.”

Yadira Sanchez, executive director, Poder Latinx: “This is a monumental victory for democracy and our communities. By striking down this unjust law that threatened to silence lawful permanent residents, the court has upheld the right of all individuals to participate in their governance. Poder Latinx challenged this draconian measure to protect community-based organizations, which are crucial in voter registration efforts. Today’s ruling reaffirms justice, inclusivity, and equal representation, sending a powerful message that attempts to suppress voter engagement will not be tolerated. We celebrate this triumph and remain committed to advocating for voter rights and ensuring every voice is heard in our democratic process.”

Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux, deputy director, ACLU’s Voting Rights Project: “This ruling is a major victory and a testament to our clients’ tireless commitment to their communities and to our democracy. The law banned people from helping eligible citizens in their communities register to vote — something Florida should encourage, not try to stop.”

Daniel Tilley, legal director, ACLU of Florida: “Today’s ruling is a victory for democracy in our state. This law was an effort to restrict registration of eligible voters who live in immigrant communities, which would limit participation in elections by new Americans who have become eligible voters.”

Miranda Galindo, supervising attorney, LatinoJustice PRLDEF: “Denying noncitizens the ability to help register eligible voters in their communities is unconstitutional and discriminatory. Our clients stood courageously against S.B. 7050 and we are thrilled that today’s victory protects all Floridians wanting to motivate their community to vote. LatinoJustice PRLDEF is dedicated to breaking down barriers to civic engagement and fighting efforts to demonize our vibrant immigrant community.”

Roni Druks, senior counsel, Dēmos: “Today’s ruling reaffirms the sanctity of civic engagement and democratic participation. In declaring that S.B. 7050 violates the Fourteenth Amendment, it stands as a victory for immigrant communities in Florida and for the possibility that as a nation we will one day forge a more inclusive, just democracy where all people can shape their futures.”

Today’s ruling is here.

Case background: https://www.aclu.org/cases/hispanic-federation-v-byrd

 

 


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