Jones v. Governor of Florida

975 F.3d 1016 (2020)

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Jones v. Governor of Florida

United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
975 F.3d 1016 (2020)

Facts

In 2018, Florida voters passed Amendment 4 to reenfranchise felons who had completed their sentences. To implement Amendment 4, the Florida Legislature enacted Florida Statutes § 98.0751, which defined the completion of a felon’s sentence to include payment of all legal financial obligations (LFO), such as fines, fees, and court costs. To vote, a felon needed to affirm on the voter-registration form that he had completed his sentence. Florida would subsequently screen the registration and would remove the felon from the voter role if his sentence was incomplete. With limited exception, a felon who knowingly voted without completing his sentence could be criminally charged. There was no set procedure by which felons could determine the amount and repayment status of their LFOs. In the 18 months following the passage of § 98.0751, 85,000 felons registered to vote, but none of the registrations were screened by the state. Several felons, led by Kelvin Jones (plaintiffs) sued the governor of Florida (Florida) (defendant), arguing that the LFO payment requirement for reenfranchisement violated the Equal Protection Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the Twenty-Fourth Amendment. The district court agreed and ordered injunctive relief, holding that § 98.0751’s LFO payment requirement (1) unconstitutionally discriminated against indigent felons who were unable to pay their LFOs, (2) was unconstitutionally vague because it was nearly impossible for felons to determine the amount and payment status of their LFOs, and (3) constituted an illegal tax on voting in violation of the Twenty-Fourth Amendment. Florida appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Pryor, C.J.)

Concurrence (Pryor, C.J.)

Dissent (Jordan, J.)

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