TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A federal court heard arguments today in the case of Hispanic Federation v. Byrd, brought on behalf of two community-based voter registration organizations as well as three individual noncitizens against Florida’s Senate Bill 7050 (SB 7050).
The lawsuit focuses on a provision of the law that bans noncitizens from conducting voter registration activities and imposes $50,000 fines on civic organizations at which they work or volunteer.
The suit also alleges the unconstitutional targeting of lawful permanent residents from civic participation and SB 7050’s chilling effect on political speech in violation of the First and 14th Amendments.
Voting and immigrants’ rights advocates are seeking a preliminary injunction to immediately block the law as the case is litigated. Their challenge aims to protect Floridian communities’ rights to free association and to be free from discrimination.
Hispanic Federation v. Byrd was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Florida, LatinoJustice PRLDEF, Dēmos, and Arnold & Porter representing Hispanic Federation, Mi Familia Vota, Poder Latinx, and individual clients.
Chief Judge Mark E. Walker of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida presided over today’s hearing.
Below are statements from the parties involved in the lawsuit:
Adriel I. Cepeda Derieux, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project: “We are challenging this law because it is a clear attack on civic engagement and participation in our democratic process. It is also discriminatory and unconstitutional.”
Daniel Tilley, legal director of the ACLU of Florida: “We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: we should not create unnecessary barriers for people to exercise their right to vote. This law does just that and specifically targets Black and Latino voters in Florida. A true free state and democracy should want people to be civically engaged and make it easier for them to do so.”
Estee Konor, associate director of litigation, Dēmos:
“Our clients serve the people of Florida every day, doing the essential work of building a better and more inclusive democracy. This law is not only an attack on voter registration, it’s an unconstitutional attempt to silence the voices of Black and brown communities.”
Frankie Miranda, president and CEO of Hispanic Federation:
“Latino and Black voters are 4 or 5 times more likely to register to vote through nonpartisan organizations like Hispanic Federation. That’s why we’re in court fighting this unconstitutional law that serves no other purpose than to silence our communities. We will not stop fighting until this law is struck down and everyone can exercise their constitutional right to vote.”
Lourdes M. Rosado, president and general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF: “Floridians are being unconstitutionally barred from partaking in their fundamental right to vote. We can’t stand idly by while community-based organizations are attacked for supporting their communities right to partake in their civic duty. It’s clear that SB 7050 is designed to discriminate against noncitizens and attack the freedom to vote in our state. We stand proudly by our partners in this lawsuit and will continue to work to expand and protect our communities' right to vote.”
Yadira Sanchez, executive director of Poder Latinx: “SB 7050 is yet another attack on immigrants coming from the state of Florida. The provisions in SB 7050 such as not allowing residents, DACA recipients, or recipients of Temporary Protected Status to conduct voter registration are appalling and will detrimentally impact our ability to help register Florida’s Latinx voters. 10% of Latinx voters have been registered through organizations like ours – what will our community do without us? SB 7050 unconstitutionally discriminates against noncitizens on the basis of their citizenship status, chilling their right to exercise free political speech and participate in civic engagement.”
About Arnold & Porter
Arnold & Porter combines sophisticated regulatory, litigation, and transactional capabilities to resolve clients’ most complex issues. With over 1,000 lawyers practicing in 14 offices worldwide, we offer deep industry experience and an integrated approach that spans more than 40 practice areas. Through multidisciplinary collaboration and focused industry experience, we provide innovative and effective solutions to mitigate risks, address challenges, and achieve successful outcomes.
Dēmos is a movement-oriented think tank committed to racial justice. Through research, advocacy, strategic communications, litigation, and deep partnerships with grassroots organizations across the country, we build power with and for Black and brown communities.
About Hispanic Federation
Hispanic Federation (HF) is a nonprofit membership and advocacy organization, founded in 1990, committed to empowering and advancing the Hispanic community, with a focus on low-income, marginalized and immigrant Latinos. With programs in 40 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia, HF’s focus areas include immigration, economic empowerment, civic engagement, disaster relief, philanthropy, education, health, and the environment. HF also maintains ongoing public education campaigns and meets the organizational development needs of its member agencies through grant-making and capacity-building assistance.
LatinoJustice PRLDEF works to create a more just society by using and challenging the rule of law to secure transformative, equitable and accessible justice, by empowering our community and by fostering leadership through advocacy and education. For 50 years, LatinoJustice PRLDEF has acted as an advocate against injustices throughout the country. To learn more about LatinoJustice, visit www.LatinoJustice.org