For the second time this week, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it is hauling Gov. Rick Scott into court — this time, over a controversial makeover of Florida’s election laws — as another group prepares to sue him over a new law restricting what doctors can ask their patients.
More court challenges are expected in what appears to be a building wave of litigation over provocative bills the conservative state Legislature passed this spring. That could cost the state untold thousands, even millions, of dollars in what lawmakers have called the state’s toughest fiscal year in decades.
… The ACLU has teamed up with Project Vote, state Sen. Arthenia Joyner and state Rep. Janet Cruz, both Tampa Democrats, to block that law, arguing that it cannot take effect anywhere in the state without U.S. Justice Department approval because five Florida counties still are under federal watch because of a history of minority vote suppression.
Secretary of State Kurt Browning is enforcing the new law in the other 62 counties while awaiting “preclearance” from the Justice Department for the five. However, ACLU of Florida director Howard Simon, citing past case law, said the state cannot apply election laws piecemeal.
If opponents win their injunction, the plaintiffs said, they will try to convince Justice Department officials the law violates federal voting protections.
The argument that preclearance is needed to apply the law anywhere is “baseless,” said Scott spokesman Brian Hughes, noting that no elections are pending in any of the five preclearance counties.
“There is plenty of time for a preclearance … before this would have an impact for any of those counties,” he said. “To get an injunction for the entire state, I’m not sure how that makes sense.”
“Was this a perfect bill? No,” Hughes said. “But it was a very good bill, and the governor chose to sign it.”
Its House sponsor, Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, pointed this spring to what he said was the fraudulent activity of the now-defunct ACORN group as proof of the need for stricter election controls.
Joyner, however, called the bill “an abomination,” saying “it’s un-American to make it a burden for people to vote. Too many people fought and died for this right, for a few people in this Legislature with a rank partisan agenda to try to inhibit a person’s right to exercise their franchise.”
Full Article: State law battles could be costly | TBO.com.