Federal appeals court will decide constitutionality of Florida elections law in September

A federal appeals court will hear arguments in September in a battle about the constitutionality of a 2021 Florida elections law.

Arguments are scheduled during the week of Sept. 12 in Miami, according to a notice issued Friday by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Attorneys for the state, county elections supervisors and national Republican organizations went to the appeals court in April after Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled that the law was unconstitutionally intended to discriminate against Black voters.

The appeals court last month put Walker’s ruling on hold while the underlying appeal moves forward. That decision cleared the way for the controversial law to be in place for this year’s elections. Numerous civil-rights and voting-rights organizations last year challenged parts of the law, which placed restrictions on the use of “drop boxes” for submitting vote-by-mail ballots, imposed additional regulations on voter-registration organizations and prevented groups from providing items such as food and water to voters waiting in line at polling places.

In his decision finding the law unconstitutional, Walker took the rare step of putting the state under a process known as judicial “preclearance,” meaning a court would have to sign off on most changes to Florida election laws for the next decade.

But in placing a stay on Walker’s ruling, a panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court said last month he failed to adequately take into account previous court decisions establishing that changes to voting laws can confuse voters in the run-up to elections.

The notice issued Friday did not give a specific date for the September arguments.
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