With arguments at a federal appeals court little more than a month away, attorneys for nine felons filed a 72-page brief Thursday urging the judges to find that Florida’s system of restoring felons’ voting rights is unconstitutional. The brief asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a ruling by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker that struck down the system. Arguments are scheduled July 25 at the appeals court in Atlanta. The restoration of felon rights has long been a controversial legal and political issue in Florida, and Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi changed the system after they took office in 2011 to effectively make restoration harder. Scott, Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis serve as the state’s clemency board and make decisions about restoration.
Under the current process, felons must wait five or seven years after their sentences are complete to apply to have rights restored.
After applications are filed, the process can take years to complete.
In the brief filed Thursday, attorneys for the felons said the case is primarily a First Amendment challenge to an “arbitrary process” for restoring the right to vote.
Full Article: Court urged to reject state rights restoration process.