Florida judge rules election-law changes unconstitutional
A federal judge on Thursday ruled that parts of Florida's newly enacted Republican-driven voting law are unconstitutional and racially biased.
Why it matters: The ruling marks the first time a federal court has rejected major components of a myriad of voting laws that have been passed by conservative-leaning states since the 2020 election.
- "Florida has a grotesque history of racial discrimination,” Chief U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker wrote in a 288-page order.
- The Florida judge accused state lawmakers of "[trotting] out one of the oldest racial tropes known to man in response to concerns about minority disenfranchisement."
- “Sadly, the record before this Court suggests that, in the past 20 years, Florida’s legislators and cabinet officials have given into that temptation several times — targeting Black voters because of their affiliation with the Democratic party. It is to that history that this Court now turns."
What they're saying: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) blasted Walker's decision as "performative partisanship," the New York Times reports.
- “If you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have the law on your side, argue the law. If you have neither, you pound the table. Well, this is the judicial equivalent of pounding the table," DeSantis said.
The other side: Civil rights and voting rights groups, meanwhile, applauded the judge's federal order, calling it a "win for Florida voters."
- “This decision recognized that S.B. 90 is the latest stain in a long history of voting laws which restrict Black political participation," senior counsel Amia Trigg of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund said in a statement.
- "As Judge Walker acknowledged, this is part of a larger assault on voting rights that continues across the country. ... Every voice deserves to be heard in our democracy, and state officials must ensure that by making elections fair and accessible — not by creating unnecessary obstacles to the ballot box."