Judge Mark Walker Blocks Florida’s Racist Voter Suppression Laws in Blistering Ruling

A federal judge permanently blocked Florida’s new voter suppression law from going into effect on Thursday, issuing a scathing ruling that says the measure unfairly violates minority voting rights and Unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker blocked three key components of the wipeout bill from taking effect because they suppressed Black voters:

  • Requests to promote third-party voter registration include warnings, such as notifying voters that their registration may not be made in time to vote;
  • New limits on voting boxes include limiting them to early voting hours unless they are in a supervisory office and requiring them to be protected at all times, and;
  • A new law criminalizes helping voters stand in line, even if it’s as simple as handing out water or snacks.

Walker, an Obama appointee, also brought the state back pre-clearance status under the Voting Rights Act for the next 10 years because Florida has “constantly, recently, and consistently acted to deny Black Floridians access to franchises.” Prior clearance means Florida will need to get federal approval before passing new legislation related to those three issues.

In his 288 pages of judgmentWalker chopped up Florida’s “terrible history of racism in voting” and said Senate Bill 90signed into law by Governor Ron DeSantis earlier this year, adds to two decades of increased but racially motivated attacks on the right to vote.

“At some point, when the Florida Legislature passed this legislation after it disproportionately burdened Black voters, this Court could no longer accept that the influence is random. “Based on the indisputable pattern outlined above, this Court finds that, over the past 20 years, Florida has repeatedly sought to make voting more difficult for Black voters because of their predisposition to support Democratic candidates.”

He also criticized higher courts, specifically the Supreme Court, for “gutting” the Voting Rights Act and for losing the “spirit that prompted” its passage. “Federal courts will not oppose legislation denying Christians the right to sacred prayer, and they should not support legislation denying Floridians sacred suffrage,” he wrote.

Florida’s law is one of several alarming voter suppression laws to be implemented nationwide in response to frantic, but unproven, claims of widespread election fraud in 2020. The Judiciary is suing Georgia over a Florida reflection bill.

The Florida lawsuit was filed by the Florida Federation of Women Voters and the NAACP against Florida Secretary of State Laurel Lee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Republican National Committee and other state officials.

“Defendants allege that SB 90 made minor fallback changes to electoral rules,” Walker wrote. “On the other hand, the plaintiffs allege that SB 90 brutally rans disabled voters and intentionally targeting minority voters – all to improve the party’s electoral prospects in strength.”

After reviewing thousands of pages of evidence and hearing over two weeks of testimony from 42 witnesses, “This Court found that, for the most part, Plaintiff was correct,” Walker wrote.

While Walker’s ban is permanent, his ruling is likely to be appealed to the more conservative 11th U.S. Court of Appeals.

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