The one-page notice of appeal was filed late Thursday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta just seven days after Chief U.S. District Court Judge Mark Walker issued his 288-page ruling that lambasted the election code changes in 2021 as tactics to suppress Black votes. He struck down tightened regulations for using ballot drop boxes and new rules for third-party registration groups.
He also ruled that a section of the changes that discourages “line warming” — engaging with people waiting to vote — was unconstitutional.
The ruling was in response to a suit brought by the League of Women Voters of Florida and other groups against the law (SB 90). Voting rights activists hailed the March 31 decision from the judge President Barack Obama appointed. Gov. Ron DeSantis dismissed it, however, saying the ruling was “performative partisanship.”
And Attorney General Ashley Moody late Thursday did what she guaranteed she would do “100%” on the day after ruling. She was on the list of defendants appealing the ruling along with Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Lake County Elections Supervisor Alan Hays and Lee County Elections Supervisor Tommy Doyle. The Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee joined as intervenor-defendants.
With six judges that President Donald Trump appointed, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta is considered one of the second or third most conservative courts in the country. The U.S. Supreme Court is the next stop if this court’s ruling is appealed.
Walker’s ruling called out Florida Republicans’ 20-year history regarding Black voters.
“At some point, when the Florida Legislature passes law after law disproportionately burdening Black voters, this Court can no longer accept that the effect is incidental,” Walker wrote. “Based on the indisputable pattern set out above, this Court finds that, in the past 20 years, Florida has repeatedly sought to make voting tougher for Black voters because of their propensity to favor Democratic candidates.”
The 2022 Session saw more changes for election regulation. Along party lines, the Legislature approved a bill (SB 524) that would create an election crimes investigation unit. Gov. DeSantis has not yet signed the bill.