The venerable Florida League of Women Voters has decided to make a federal case out of a restrictive, punitive and politically motivated voting law approved this year by the state Legislature. Good for the league, and its co-plaintiffs.
The league is one of three groups that filed a lawsuit last week in a Tallahassee federal court, challenging the law. The suit asserts that the state law violates the plaintiffs’ rights to free speech and conflicts with the National Voter Registration Act. Joining the league were Rock the Vote — a national organization that engages young Americans in voting — and the Florida Public Interest Group Education Fund. This lawsuit is one of two federal cases involving the Florida voting law.
A three-judge panel for the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., already had the state law under review. Also last week, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder suggested that some of the provisions in Florida’s statute are being subjected to intensified scrutiny in connection with the court’s review.
Let’s hope the federal cases ensure the in-depth analysis of the Florida law’s impacts — on First Amendment rights and the national act — that the Legislature failed to provide. The state law codified bad public policies; the two federal cases will determine whether the statute violates constitutional principles or national law.
One of the most egregious provisions directly impacts the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization with a long record of properly registering people, and other so-called third-party groups.