Scott, Browning keep pushing to have elections case dismissed
A ruling on the American Civil Liberties Union’s case challenging the implementation of Florida’s new elections law has still not come down, and lawyers for Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Secretary of State Kurt Browning renewed their push to get the case dismissed in a filing Monday.
The filing calls for Scott to be dismissed from the case, arguing he is not directly responsible for implementing the law. It also argues the plaintiffs do not have standing to challenge the implementation of the law in the 62 counties not covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires federal approval for any changes that could affect the right to vote for some jurisdictions that had a history of voter discrimination.
Five Florida counties are covered under Section 5, and the State Department has said it is not implementing the law in the covered counties until it is approved, but the case aims to block implementation of the new law statewide until it is approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. The plaintiffs have argued the law should still be blocked because it is having effects all over the state. Groups such as the League of Women Voters have suspended voter registration activities in both covered and non-covered counties.
In Monday’s filing, Browning’s lawyers argue that the league’s decision was “voluntary,” and that because the provisions are not being enforced in the covered counties, the case “no longer presents a live controversy with respect to which the court can give meaningful relief.”
As for the other 62 counties, the filing contends that because the plaintiffs named in the case come from covered counties, they “cannot demonstrate any injury in fact resulting from actions taken by non-covered jurisdictions,” and “therefore lack standing to seek an injunction prohibiting enforcement of the Act ‘anywhere in the State of Florida’ as they have requested in the Complaint.”
At the time of publication, a three-judge panel has yet to rule on the ACLU’s motion for a preliminary injunction blocking the law, or on Browning and Scott’s attempts to dismiss the case.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department could decide whether to object to the election law changes by early August. The League of Women Voters and other groups recently called on the federal government to reject the overhaul, saying it creates a “panoply of burdensome and wholly unnecessary restrictions on the opportunity and ability of individual citizens and grassroots organizations to conduct voter registration drives.”
The latest filing from Scott and Browning’s lawyers is below: