Just recently, a federal judge appointed by Obama ruled that Florida’s decades-old system barring former felons from ever voting in an election unless they get a special exemption from a panel of government officials is unconstitutional. Apparently, the process of regaining one’s ability to vote was, according to the judge, is in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Specifically, in a scathing decision released earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker asserted that Florida’s system for deciding whether or not to restore a former felon’s voting rights, which he called a “scheme,” is unfair because it “relies on the personal support of the governor for citizens to regain the right to vote” and doesn’t have any standards to guide the panel. They now have until February 12th to come up with a remedy.
“Florida strips the right to vote from every man and woman who commits a felony. To vote again, disenfranchised citizens must kowtow before a panel of high-level government officials over which Florida’s governor has absolute veto authority,” explained Judge Walker in his ruling.
“No standards guide the panel. Its members alone must be satisfied that these citizens deserve restoration…The question now is whether such a system passes constitutional muster,” he continued, noting, “it does not.”
To clarify, he added, “if any one of these citizens wishes to earn back their fundamental right to vote, they must plod through a gauntlet of constitutionally infirm hurdles. No more. When the risk of state-sanctioned viewpoint discrimination skulks near the franchise, it is the province and duty of this Court to excise such potential bias from infecting the clemency process.”
Walker’s decision, however, is absolutely ridiculous. Felons shouldn’t be allowed to vote simply because they’ve finished probation. They should only be allowed to vote if they can demonstrate that they are actually rehabilitated.
Disturbingly, Walker’s ruling also comes just in time for the next election, which could potentially help the Democratic Party get more votes.
Unsurprisingly, in an emailed statement about the recent ruling, John Tupps, a spokesperson for Florida Governor Rick Scott (R) confirmed that they weren’t pleased with Judge Walker’s decision and vowed to continue defending the state’s process in court.
“The discretion of the clemency board over the restoration of felons’ rights in Florida has been in place for decades and overseen by multiple governors. The process is outlined in Florida’s Constitution, and today’s ruling departs from precedent set by the United States Supreme Court,” wrote Tupps.
“The Governor believes that convicted felons should show that they can lead a life free of crime and be accountable to their victims and our communities,” he added, noting, “while we are reviewing today’s ruling, we will continue to defend this process in the court.”
Sadly, Walker isn’t the only federal judge to recently issue an absurd decision. Several weeks ago, for instance, Judge Wendy Beetlestone, a federal judge with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, granted a preliminary injunction against the Trump administration’s change to Obamacare, the effectively blocking their new rule allowing for religious and moral exemptions.
As a consequence, countless companies that are owned by Christians or other opponents of abortions reportedly must provide “abortion-inducing drugs and devices” to their employees pending the outcome of the trial.
And prior to that, Judge Lee Yeakel, a federal judge with the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, ruled that SB 8, which is a Texas law prohibiting doctors from performing dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions is unconstitutional.
Now, because of his ruling, unborn babies across the state are at risk of being savagely ripped apart while being aborted. This is because of the fact that a D&E procedure, otherwise known as a “dismemberment abortion,” is a second-trimester abortion technique that essentially involves using medical forceps to rip fetuses, sometimes limb from limb, out of their mothers.
According to Judge Yeakel, such a cruel and unusual procedure must not be prohibited because it’s one of the easiest methods available. “The State’s valid interest in promoting respect for the life of the unborn, although legitimate, is not sufficient to justify such a substantial obstacle to the constitutionally protected right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy before fetal viability,” reasoned Yeakel in his decision.
“That a woman may make the decision to have an abortion before a fetus may survive outside her womb is solely and exclusively the woman’s decision. The power to make this decision is her right,” he explained, adding, “requiring a woman to undergo an unwanted, risky, invasive, and experimental procedure in exchange for exercising her right to choose an abortion, substantially burdens that right.”
But clearly, his reasoning is utterly absurd. It doesn’t matter if it’s the easiest method available if it involves cruel and unusual punishment. That would be like advocating for cruel and unusual forms of punishment for prisoners simply because they’re easier alternatives.
This type of reasoning, however, hasn’t withstood scrutiny by the Supreme Court. If such reasoning is unconstitutional when it comes to executing prisoners, then it follows that it’s also unconstitutional when it comes to executing the unborn.
In addition to SB 8, a similar law in Alabama was also recently struck down by a federal judge. Specifically, Judge Myron Thompson, a senior United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, ruled several weeks ago that the state of Alabama, like Texas, cannot prohibit dismemberment abortions.
Judges must not be allowed to continue making absolutely ludicrous rulings. Hopefully, the state of Florida decides to appeal Walker’s decision and ultimately get it overturned.