Johnson v. Bush
Voting After Criminal Conviction
The Center, representing more than 600,000 Florida citizens in a class action suit, challenged Florida’s permanent disenfranchisement of people with felony convictions. Together with co-counsel, the Center argued that, because of its discriminatory intent and effect, Florida’s voting ban violated both the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
- On September 21, 2000, Plaintiffs filed a complaint.
- On July 18, 2002, the federal district court for the Southern District of Florida granted summary judgment to the State.
- On August 9, 2002, Plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which heard oral arguments during the week of March 17, 2003.
- On December 19, 2003, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit reversed the summary judgment ruling in a decision available here.
- On July 20, 2004, the 11th Circuit granted a request by the state to rehear the case, and on October 26, 2004, the 11th Circuit sitting “en banc,” (as a whole) heard oral arguments.
- On April 11, 2005, the 11th Circuit en banc upheld Florida’s 137-year-old voting ban against people with felony convictions in a decision available here.
- On August 10, 2005, Plaintiffs filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. The cert petition is available here.
- On October 14, 2005, two amicus briefs were filed in support of the Petitioners’ request for certiorari—one on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Florida (available here) and one on behalf of current and former Law Enforcement officials (available here).
- On October 14, 2005, the State filed its brief in opposition to certiorari.
- On October 26, the Brennan Center filed a reply brief in response to the State’s opposition brief.
- On November 14, 2005, the Supreme Court denied the Plaintiffs’ cert petition. The Court did not specify why it declined to review the case.
Rulings & Filings
- Order Granting Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment
- Plaintiffs’ Brief on Appeal
- Defendants’ Brief on Appeal
- 11th Circuit Panel Opinion
- 11th Circuit En Banc Questions
- 11th Circuit En Banc Opinion
- Plaintiffs’ petition for a writ of certiorari to the US Supreme Court
- Amicus brief filed on behalf of League of Women Voters
- Amicus brief filed on behalf of Law Enforcement officials
- State’s brief in opposition to certiorari
- Plaintiffs’ reply brief in response to State’s Opp. Brief
Press Releases & News
- Press Release - Supreme Court Turns Down Historic Voting Rights Case - November 14, 2005
- Press Release - Brennan Center Response to 11th Circuit Ruling in Florida Felony Disenfranchisement Case - April 12, 2005
- Press Release - Decision Today in Johnson v. Bush, Florida Voting Rights Case - December 19, 2003
- Media Alert - Appeal Hearing Set for April 9 - March 27, 2003
- Reaction to Decision in Johnson v. Bush - July 17, 2002
- Media Alert - Florida Law Denying Vote to Ex-Felons Faces Critical Court Date April 5th Hearing - March 27, 2002
- Media Alert - Florida Law Denying Vote to Ex-Felons Faces Critical Court Date March 25th Hearing - March 25, 2002
- Press Release - Brennan Center Challenges Florida Law that Denies Ex-Felons’ Right to Vote - Sept. 21, 2000
Op-Eds & Commentary
- Let Florida Felons Vote by Deborah Goldberg - New York Times, February 14, 2005
- Floridians Who Can’t Vote by Jessie Allen - New York Times, April 4, 2004
- Locking Out the Vote by Jessie Allen - American Lawyer, April 2003
- Felons Have Allies in Vote-Ban Case by Elizabeth Amon - National Law Journal, January 14, 2003
- Editorial Memorandum: An “Unhealthy Democracy” Florida Court Case Highlights Felon Disenfranchisement Crisis in U.S.; National Effort to Restore Voting Rights to Ex-Felons Grows - July 2, 2002
- Votes That Will Never Be Counted by Nancy Northup - Chicago Tribune, November 12, 2000
- The case is featured in a documentary, "Trouble in Paradise."