There Is No Court of History
Yesterday, the Eleventh Circuit decided Jones v. DeSantis. This en banc decision held that Amendment 4 to the Florida Constitution did not violate the Federal Constitution. The Amendment could condition the payment of any fines as a prerequisite to the restoration of voting rights. The Court split 6-4. You may recall that there was an effort to get Judges Lagoa and Luck to recuse (See here and here). They did not recuse. Ultimately, their participation broke what have otherwise would have been a tie that affirmed the district court’s permanent injunction.
Chief Judge Bill Pryor wrote the majority opinion. But here, I flag Chief Judge Pryor’s separate concurrence, which Judge Lagoa joined. Pryor responds to a claim made by Judge Jordan in dissent. Judge Jordan wrote:
Our predecessor, the former Fifth Circuit, has been rightly praised for its landmark decisions on voting rights in the 1950s and 1960s. See generally Jack Bass, Unlikely Heroes: The Dramatic Story of the Southern Judges Who Translated the Supreme Court’s Brown Decision Into a Revolution for Equality 259–77 (1981). I doubt that today’s decision—which blesses Florida’s neutering of Amendment 4—will be viewed as kindly by history.
Pryor forcefully rejected this claim:
I write separately to explain a d
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