The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to block Florida's rules that prevent some convicted criminals from voting – a temporary victory that allows government restrictions to continue into the fall, if not longer, of autumn.
Why is it important: This lawsuit will ultimately decide whether hundreds of thousands of Floridians are eligible to vote – enough to hold an election.
The background: In 2o18, voters in Florida approved a measure to restore criminals' voting rights after they had completed their sentences. But Governor Ron DeSantis (R) then signed a law saying that criminals would only get their voting rights back after not only serving their sentences but also paying all outstanding fines and penalties.
- A judge ruled that DeSantis's restrictions are unconstitutional, but a federal appeals court has allowed them to take effect while the dispute continues over their merits.
- Proponents of voting rights urged the Supreme Court to intervene and put the state's payment requirements on hold while the case is being tried in court. The court rejected this request today.
The other side: Three of the liberal judges disagreed, saying the court should have temporarily frozen DeSantis's restrictions.
- "The inaction of this court continues the trend of tolerating disenfranchisement," wrote Judge Sonia Sotomayor.
What's next: Offenders who have not paid their fines and penalties cannot register in time for the state primaries next month. Whether they can vote in November is up to the appeals court.
- These decisions not only prevent new voters from registering, but also leave around 85,000 people in the balance who have already registered, according to the AP.
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