Amicus curiae Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (“FRRC”) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit grassroots membership organization run by returning citizens—formerly convicted persons—in the state of Florida. The organization has deep investment in the automatic restoration of rights provided by Amendment 4’s changes to the Florida Constitution and in provisions that ameliorate obstacles to rights restoration under Senate Bill 7066 (“SB 7066”). FRRC, therefore, has a strong interest in this Court’s consideration of Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction regarding SB 7066 and any related consideration of the constitutionality of Amendment 4 itself, on which this Court has ordered briefing.
FRRC is dedicated to ending disenfranchisement and discrimination against people with convictions, and creating a more humane reentry system. The organization has fought to restore voting rights to Floridians with felony convictions since 2011. FRRC led the campaign for a constitutional amendment to end permanent disenfranchisement in Florida for all felonies other than murder and felony sexual offense. FRRC submitted the first draft of Amendment 4 to the Florida Division of Elections and collected over 66,000 signatures to secure review of the proposed amendment by the Florida Supreme Court. Later, FRRC helped collect signatures from more than 1.1 million voters to qualify Amendment 4 for the November 2018 ballot. The organization created a political action committee, met with legislators, and ran a public education campaign to build support for Amendment 4. These efforts included phone banking and a widespread get-out-the-vote campaign. In 2018 alone, FRRC spent more than $1.4 million to make Amendment 4 a reality. In no small part due to these efforts, Amendment 4 passed with the support of over 5.1 million Floridians—64.55% of the vote.
In 2019, the Florida legislature passed SB 7066, which requires certain legal financial obligations (“LFOs”) be paid by returning citizens before their right to vote is restored. FRRC engaged with Florida legislators, provided technical assistance, and testified to shape SB 7066 in specific ways favorable to returning citizens and their right to vote. FRRC helped secure within SB 7066 a sentence modification provision, allowing judges to terminate LFOs, convert them to community service, or remove them from the sentencing document such that the obligations still exist but no longer pose a barrier to re-enfranchisement. See Fla. Stat. § 98.0751(2)(a)(5)(e) (hereinafter “modification provision”). This modification provision has the potential to mitigate SB 7066’s LFO payment requirement and, if the LFO requirement is ultimately upheld, increase the number of persons able to have their rights restored under Amendment 4.
FRRC also advocated for language clarifying that re-enfranchisement is conditioned on completion of only those terms “contained in the four corners of the sentencing document,” id. § 98.0751(2)(a) (hereinafter “four-corners provision”).
This provision means that returning citizens need not pay LFOs imposed outside the sentencing document to regain their vote. FRRC has been working to help Floridians use the modification and the four-corners provisions to restore their voting rights.
FRRC submits this brief to explain why any order from this Court should not enjoin these provisions of SB 7066 and why no scenario calls for Amendment 4 itself to be invalidated.
Download the Full Brief PDF