Micah Kubic: Ron DeSantis hostility to Amendment 4 is even more concerning than it sounds

deSantis
DeSantis flip-flopped on this crucial voting rights issue — something he has done repeatedly over the past year.

For months, Gov. Ron DeSantis has claimed to support voter restoration, but everything he’s done until this point has undermined the goal of ensuring all Floridians have equal access to the ballot box.

After the passage of Amendment 4 in November 2018, which restored the right to vote to as many as 1.4 million returning citizens, many Floridians across the state expected to register to vote beginning in January 2019. This historic occasion marked the end of lifetime felony disenfranchisement in Florida and paved the way for so many of our loved ones to make their voices heard in a state that for far too long denied them the ability to fully participate in our communities.

Then, Gov. DeSantis and the Florida Legislature stepped in, passing Senate Bill 7066 into law, an unconstitutional poll tax that eliminated the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of people in our state.

On Friday, DeSantis announced that his administration would appeal an October ruling by a federal court that, in addition to granting 17 plaintiffs their right to register and vote in Florida elections, ruled the denial of the right to vote cannot be based on someone’s inability to pay.

In doing so, DeSantis flip-flopped on this crucial voting rights issue — something he has done repeatedly over the past year.

First, DeSantis said the Legislature needed to enact “implementing language” for Amendment 4, although Amendment 4 is self-executing. Taking their cue from the governor, a majority of the legislature passed SB7066, which required total payment of legal financial obligations as a new condition before automatically restoring voting rights to eligible returning citizens.

This action by the governor and Legislature blatantly undermined Amendment 4 and the will of 5.2 million Florida voters who passed the amendment into law.

When DeSantis signed SB7066 into law June 28, he called Amendment 4 a “mistake” in his signing statement. Immediately upon signing, voting rights and civil rights groups, including the ACLU of Florida, filed a lawsuit challenging the law and subsequently filed a request for preliminary injunction to block SB7066 from going into effect.

Months later, following our hearing to block the poll tax law and a ruling in our favor, a spokesperson for Gov. DeSantis curiously claimed that the federal court ruling aligned all along with the governor’s own position on Amendment 4.

“Today’s ruling affirms the governor’s consistent position that convicted felons should be held responsible for paying applicable restitution, fees and fines while also recognizing the need to provide an avenue for individuals unable to pay back their debts as a result of true financial hardship. The Governor will consider options put forward on addressing a pathway for those who are indigent and unable to address their outstanding financial obligations.”

But why would DeSantis appeal a ruling that he said “affirms’ his own position? That would be nonsensical. In fact, DeSantis argued before a federal court that inability to pay should bar someone from voting. By appealing the federal court’s position, DeSantis flips back to his old position that one’s inability to pay means one’s inability to vote.

In addition to appealing the federal court decision, the governor went on to attack the 17 brave individuals who put their story and experiences in the public to fight for voting rights and won their right to register and vote. In a statement released by the governor’s spokesperson, the governor accused the plaintiffs of “attempting to use the court process to rewrite the scope and original intent of the amendment.”

Why does Gov. DeSantis say he is defending the rights of returning citizens one day and attacking them next? We don’t know.

What we do know, with certainty, is the effect of Gov. DeSantis’s actions on voting rights. The effect is to undermine the will of more than 5 million Florida voters, to create an unconstitutional pay-to-vote poll tax, and to weaken our democracy.

___

Micah Kubic is the executive director of the ACLU of Florida.

Guest Author


12 comments

  • Edward H Freeman

    November 21, 2019 at 6:18 am

    So many thanks to the ACLU and the 17 brave plaintiffs in this case! This would be a far less free country without that ACLU continually on guard to protect the rights of ALL people. Here in Florida we especially need their hard work. Our evil Governor and repugnant Florida Legislature consistently have tried to subvert the will of Florida voters expressed at the ballot box and have for generations now continued their quest to deny Floridian our Constitutional right and even our basic human rights and dignity. Shame on them all.

    • jack oils

      November 23, 2019 at 1:18 am

      Well said !

      • Paddi labale

        December 3, 2019 at 6:32 pm

        Ron need to set his self down and get over it it passed #4 amendment just leave it and be a govoner I’m not gonna say a good one cuz he’s messy one

  • John Kociuba

    November 21, 2019 at 9:11 am

    Dear Citizens~

    Re: ACLU Communist Organization

    Did any of you know the ACLU was founded by hardcore Clandestine Communist Operatives? Yup. Funny how they never stick up for Christians, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, Amendments only in specific cases to ecpand the Communist Hard Left Specter.

    Child Rapist in schools? Here they come! Satanic Rituals? ACLU on the way? Communists allowed to work in Government as we have nuclear weapons pointed at this determined ebemy? ACLU comes skipping diwn the street!

    Yes. Planned Parenthood selling illegal baby parts? ACLU salivates!

    The truth:
    The ACLU works with numerous Pro Communist Groups to undermine the pillars of our justice system thru “JUDGE SHOPPING” to known leftist federal judges to win cases.

    Moreover the UEAALDF, is funded by AFL-CIO, SEIU, UEW,SPLC, George Doros, Steyer, Bloomberg, and numerous other billionaires sympathetic to Communist slave labor system.

    Theepochtimes.com “THE SPECTER OF COMMUNISM!”

    • gary

      November 21, 2019 at 12:47 pm

      Thank God for people like you that never back down from telling the TRUTH! The ACLU is a terrorist organization and funded by communists and fleeced by uneducated conservatives

  • Jean Miller

    November 22, 2019 at 1:19 am

    I can understand paying restitution because that is pay back to a victim. However court cost and such is totally wrong. I like our new governor but he should really rethink his position on amendment 4.

  • FDOT Whistleblower

    November 22, 2019 at 10:30 am

    Much like his mentor (our despot President – Donald J. Trump), Governor DeSantis is very transparent with his political motivations.

    In the article below from January, Governor DeSantis selected as his new FDOT Secretary – Mr. Kevin Thibault – yes, the very same Kevin Thibault who “got caught” back in 2011 – with his hand in the FDOT “cookie jar”.

    Mr. Thibault should have been “indicted” and jailed – as the “lead person” in this scheme to promote Republican interests, at taxpayers’ expense.

    As a then-registered felon, there would be “restitution and court costs” before Mr. Thibault could even vote, much less lead a State Agency — but thanks to Governor DeSantis, both Stephanie Kopelousos and Kevin Thibault are back in-charge here in Florida.

    Regardless of anti- or pro-ACLU……this is so very sad and wrong.

    Political tides are a-changing for 2020 🙂

    Bring back honesty, respect, and Government integrity.

    Drain this Swamp!

    01/07/2019
    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Department of Transportation official involved in a scheme to dole out illegal billboard permits applied to become Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis’ first transportation secretary on Monday.

    Kevin Thibault served…..under former FDOT Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos, who was recently hired to serve as DeSantis’ legislative affairs director….

    In 2011, a grand jury found that Kopelousos made Thibault the leader of a plan to give 110 billboard permits to Salter Advertising, a panhandle company with strong ties to the region’s political leaders…..

    A grand jury impaneled to investigate the issue said the permits were greenlit without Salter Advertising paying the state about $4 million in fees.

    Former State Attorney Willie Meggs acknowledged at the time that the law had been “circumvented” but decided to take no action despite the findings of the grand jury.

    “You can’t indict an entire state agency,” Meggs told the Times-Union in 2011.

    However, the grand jury was clear that Thibault was the lead person involved with the scheme.

    • Jean Miller

      November 22, 2019 at 10:56 am

      I’m not really interested in anyone who calls the president of the US a despot. As an ex-felon myself I would really like the opportunity to cast my vote for 1. DeSantis and 2. The best president this country has seen in a long time and that would be Trump. I am not about to vote for any of the despots that are currently running and I’m certainly not voting for a party that I don’t even know what to call them. This whole dem transgender bs is just crazy. I hate abortion and I love the economy. I am not voting for people who want to open our borders up either. So if you dems can fix these issue that you a responsible for I will go back to voting for you.

    • Jack

      November 23, 2019 at 1:10 am

      Talk about transparency !?

  • Tyrone Whitehead

    November 22, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    It can be assumed that Desantis is working in concert with Trump and the re-election campaign to thwart a substantial influx of new voters many of whom are minorities. The fear of having more voters in an already closely divided state threaten Trump’s reelection prospects in Florida. Desantis is projected to have a change in stance after the presidential election.

  • Clarence

    November 23, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    The only reason Desantis is against Amendment 4 is because Florida has razor thin election results and if you add the ex-con vote to the mix, especially black ex-cons who tend to vote democrat, the republicans will lose elections and be out of power. It’s self preservation for the republican fascists.

  • Matt B.

    November 30, 2019 at 4:24 pm

    The wording in Amendment 4 was pretty clear to me that all fines and restitutions had to be paid. Calling it a poll tax is the Left’s attempt to race bait again.

Comments are closed.


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