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Federal Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction Allowing Citizens With Felonies in Florida to Vote

Paul, Weiss and co-counsel — the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Florida, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Campaign Legal Center — won a preliminary injunction enjoining portions of a state statute that prevented citizens who have served sentences for felony convictions from registering to vote unless they paid all associated fines and fees. Following a two-day preliminary injunction hearing in the Northern District of Florida, Judge Robert Lewis Hinkle held on October 18 that the “State of Florida cannot deny restoration of a felon's right to vote solely because the felon does not have the financial resources necessary to pay restitution” or “other financial obligations.” Recent studies indicate that more than 80% of returning citizens, and a disproportionate number of African Americans, would have been prevented from voting under the statute.

Judge Hinkle reserved decision on several other arguments, including whether SB 7066 constituted an impermissible tax under the 24th Amendment or violated plaintiffs’ due process. A trial on these issues is set for April 6, 2020.

The Paul, Weiss team includes litigation partners Bob Atkins and Yahonnes Cleary, and associates Pietro Signoracci, David Giller, Matthew Barnett, Aaron Haier and Eliza Strong.

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