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Johnson v. Bush

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.

Published: November 14, 2005

Voting After Crim­inal Convic­tion

Case Summary

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.

Case History

  • 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.

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