Florida’s system of restoring voting rights to ex-felons remains intact, for now at least, after a federal appeals court Wednesday night delayed a judge’s ruling issued in February that had struck down the system. The decision from the Atlanta-based U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals prevented a late-night meeting of the Florida Clemency Board, which was called by Gov. Rick Scott to comply with the lower court’s Thursday deadline to adopt new voting rights restoration rules. “We are glad that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has stayed the lower court’s reckless ruling,’’ said Scott spokesman John Tupps. “Judges should interpret the law, not create it.’’
The ruling is only temporary until the underlying appeal is resolved, but the order indicates the state is likely to win.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker of Tallahassee struck down the system, which allows the board to grant or deny voting rights to ex-convicts for any reason, finding it was arbitrary and violated their constitutional rights.
But the appeals court found that “binding precedent holds that the Governor has broad discretion to grant and deny clemency, even when the applicable regime lacks any standards.”