Ron DeSantis asks Florida Supreme Court for opinion on Amendment 4 restitution rule

Supreme Court of Florida
DeSantis makes argument in favor of requiring financial obligations be paid

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is asking the Florida Supreme Court to render an opinion specifically on whether the state can require felons who wish to vote to first satisfy all financial obligations of a sentence, notably the controversial concept that they must pay all fines, fees, and restitution.

DeSantis put his request forward Friday in a letter to Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Canady and the other Justices.

The Florida Legislature, with DeSantis’ signature, included the financial obligations in Senate Bill 7066, which seeks to clarify requirements felons must fulfill in order to meet the new opportunity to restore their voting rights under Amendment 4, which was approved statewide by voters last November. SB 7066 became a part of Chapter 2019-162 of Florida’s Statutes.

The financial obligations requirement is being challenged in at least four lawsuits filed in federal court, in cases and questions that are outside the reach of the Florida Supreme Court. Opponents of that provision of the law contend that it is in violation of several freedoms guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, particularly the freedom from poll taxes, included in the 24th Amendment.

Among the suits is one filed by The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law .

DeSantis’ letter to Canady spells out a case in favor of including the financial obligations, notably that they had been acknowledged as requirements by supporters of Amendment 4 when the issue went before the Florida Supreme Court for pre-election clearance in 2017.

“It is ultimately my responsibility, through the Department of State, to “protect the integrity of the electoral process” by maintaining accurate and current voter registration records, including ensuring only eligible voters remain on the statewide voter registration system,” DeSantis said.

As many as 1.4 million felons appeared eligible to vote in Florida under Amendment 4,  Starting last January, thousands of them began registering to vote, though there is no clear count of how many newly-registered voters are actually felons who have cleared their records. With the passage of SB 7066, it’s likely that many of those people will become ineligible again.

Consequently, DeSantis is seeking the Florida Supreme Court opinion outside of what the federal courts might ultimately decide.

“I, as Governor of Florida, want to ensure the proper implementation of Article VI, section 4, of the Florida Constitution and, if applicable, chapter 2019-162, Laws of Florida. This includes the ability to direct the Department of State to fully implement Article VI, section 4, of the Florida Constitution by determining whether a convicted felon has completed all terms of their sentence, including the satisfaction of” financial obligations, DeSantis wrote.

“I will not infringe on the proper restoration of an individual’s right to vote under the Florida Constitution,” he continued.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].


  • NoMoreRepublicans

    August 9, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    Hopefully, the Supreme Court will find that the “fines, fees, and restitution” are unconstitutional if they’re assessed in addition to a jail sentence. One or the other only!

    • gary

      August 9, 2019 at 3:09 pm

      If they are honest justices, and we know some are democrat liberals, so they are not all honest and adhere to the letter of the law. But the law as written required all sentences served. That would also require restitution and fines payed. Not hard to understand this unless you are a Democrat hoping to gain more convicts in your party!

      • Rebecca Jamin

        August 9, 2019 at 6:35 pm

        right. And I suppose the Republican justices are all lily white/honest. Get real.

        • gary

          August 9, 2019 at 8:39 pm

          There are a lots of bad Republicans, but there are no good Democrats! Wherever crime is and laws are broken, you will find a Democrat!

  • Rebecca Jamin

    August 9, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    These ex-felons already have a hard enough time paying the bills that need to be paid just to live. They have served their time and are now TRYING to get back on their feet. Many can’t even get a job at all. How are they to rejoin society when ALL of the odds are stacked against them? When they can’t get a job, because of their record, they turn to illegal ways to pay the bills and buy food.
    Note to Gary, I’m not quite sure why you think that all ex-felons are Democrat. Oh that’s right, only republicans are honest. SMH.
    One final statement. When these ex-cons DO get their voting rights back what exactly do you think that they’ll vote on that’s going to hurt everyone? Last time I looked, there wasn’t anything on any ballots that said anything about making auto theft, murder, bank robbery, assault, etc., etc. legal.

  • gary

    August 9, 2019 at 8:48 pm


    7 in 10 felons are registered as Democrats. Why do you think the Democrats wanted this bill in the first place? The same reason they don’t want to do anything to stop illegals from entering, because most of them register as Democrats. The Democrat party has decided to abandon hard working middle class.

    If there is no penalty for choosing crime over being a productive citizen, then our societal breakdown is inevitable. They have many avenues for employment in Trump’s economy, let them work and earn the respect of society by their efforts and their choices!

  • Paul Siano

    August 10, 2019 at 5:58 am

    Besides being well known for suppressing the vote, the republican party is also the party of felons:

    President Richard Nixon, Vice President Spiro Agnew, Attorney General John Mitchell, John Ehrlichman Domestic Affairs Advisor to the President, John Dean White House Counsel, H.R. Haldeman White House Chief of Staff, Alexander Butterfield deputy White House chief of staff.

    Oh, and how can I forget: Donald Trump.

    And yet republicans want to make it hard on felons to vote. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. You republicans fool no one.

    • gary

      August 11, 2019 at 2:09 am


      You and I both know your short list is weak. Most simply acted like good servants and apologized and walked away. If I had to list the crimes of Democrats in politics, I would be here all night. Just the recent Pedo and PizzaGate issues would be enough to make even a Democrat run to the church! And lets not talk about the Democrats being the party of mass shooters! All but 2 shooters in the last 20 years were registered Democrats! 80 % of the prison population is Democrat. Do yourself a favor, don’t bring this up in the future, it makes you look ignorant!

Comments are closed.


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