Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said Thursday that she will fight to preserve the state’s process for restoring felons’ voting rights after a federal judge’s recent ruling that deemed the process unconstitutional, and Bondi is prepared to take the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker last month gave Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet until April 26 to revamp the process, which Walker ruled violates First Amendment and equal-protection rights under the U.S. Constitution.
Bondi's office on Wednesday filed a notice of appeal at the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and asked for a stay of the order requiring a new process by April 26.
Bondi also reaffirmed the state’s authority to determine the process of restoring voting rights:
"We have been following the law," she said. "We firmly believe that it is the law in the state of Florida. We plan on enforcing the laws. That's what I do as the chief legal officer of the state of Florida. So, yes, we are appealing it. We will appeal it to the highest court."
In his ruling last month, Walker indicated the state needs to devise a more expeditious and less arbitrary process.
As it stands, Floridians with felony convictions must wait five years to apply for reinstatement of their voting rights, seven if they were convicted of murder or sex crimes. Once they have applied, felons are at the mercy of the governor and Cabinet, who have near total freedom in approving or rejecting each applicant.
Walker wrote: "There are problems of potential abuse—especially when members of the board, who are elected on a statewide basis and who may be running for re-election or another office, have a personal stake in shaping the electorate to their perceived benefit."