The law limits drop-box sites, makes it a crime to possess more than two ballots at a time and prohibits “queue warming” practices, such as offering water or chairs, to voters waiting outside polling places.
The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta reversed a lower court injunction that prevented the law from being applied. Judge Mark Walker’s March 31 decision criticized the state for what it called a “grotesque history of racial discrimination.” Walker, a US district judge in Tallahassee, ordered Florida to bring any future election law changes to federal court before implementing them.
Walker’s 288-page ruling criticized the GOP-led state legislature for perpetuating Florida’s “painful history” with black voters.
But a three-member panel of the appeals court ruled that Walker’s decision was “misguided” and “does not seem appropriate, focused or limited.”
Challenges to the law are still being appealed.
“First, we find the district court’s historical background analysis to be problematic. We have made it clear that the ‘old and obsolete intentions of previous generations’ must not ‘pollute [a state’s] legislative action forever on certain issues,’” the order said.
DeSantis was confident the state would prevail in the appeals court. The three justices who wrote the decision were appointed by President Donald Trump, and DeSantis had appointed one of them, Barbara Lagoa, to the Florida Supreme Court before Trump appointed her to the federal appeals court.
A statement from DeSantis’ office said “we hope this law will withstand any additional legal scrutiny.”
“In Florida, Governor DeSantis is leading the way in making voting easier and cheating harder, and Election Integrity protects the legal rights of all voters,” the statement said.
Several groups sued the state over the law. Jasmine Burney-Clark, founder of Equal Ground, testified during the January trial. On Friday, she released a statement saying she was “deeply disturbed and disappointed” by the appeals court ruling.
“Let’s be clear, this law undoes the progress that voting rights groups have made and targets the very tools that minority communities, like ours, use to increase voter turnout,” Burney-Clark said in the statement.