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Arnold & Porter Achieves Significant Voting Rights Victory in Florida

April 1, 2022

Arnold & Porter helped achieve another significant voting rights victory, this time in the state of Florida. Chief US District Judge Mark Walker issued a March 31 decision striking down key provisions of Florida SB 90, a restrictive voting law passed by the Republican-majority state legislature and Governor Ron DeSantis. The law would have created major obstacles to vote-by-mail, curtailed access to drop boxes, restricted the activities of third-party voter registration organizations, and criminalized activities such as providing food, water, and language assistance to voters.

“The Court properly recognized that SB 90 was only the latest in a long string of efforts by the State of Florida to suppress the votes of Black and Brown Floridians by targeting the precise strategies successfully used to mobilize for prior elections,” said Arnold & Porter Senior Pro Bono Counsel John A. Freedman.

“In adopting a preclearance requirement, the Court has recognized that future efforts by the Florida legislature to restrict voting rights need to be carefully scrutinized prior to enactment,” said Freedman, who acted as lead trial counsel for the Florida Rising Together plaintiffs, one of the plaintiffs’ groups that filed the lawsuit.

Arnold & Porter filed a lawsuit in 2021, along with several national civil rights and voting rights groups, including the Advancement Project, Latino Justice and Demos in the Northern District of Florida to block implementation of Florida Senate Bill 90. The complaint asserted that the new law violates the Voting Rights Act and the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and unlawfully abridges voters’ rights to voter assistance at polling locations. It also detailed how the new law would disproportionately disenfranchise minority voters and harm the work of civic engagement organizations. The complaint sought a permanent injunction of the challenged provisions of SB 90, as well as relief under Section 3( c) of the Voting Rights Act, which would subject future Florida voting legislation to pre-approval by the court.

This is just the most recent voting rights victory that Arnold & Porter attorneys have accomplished. In February, Arnold & Porter attorneys successfully challenged North Carolina's congressional and state legislative maps as unconstitutional partisan gerrymanders. Following that, in March the US Supreme Court refused to stay the North Carolina Supreme Court’s decision striking down the state’s gerrymandered congressional map under the state constitution.

The Arnold & Porter team included senior pro bono counsel John A. Freedman, partners Jeffrey Miller, Daniel Meyers, Aaron Stiefel, and Elisabeth Theodore, senior attorneys Jeremy Karpatkin and Daniel Bernstein, and associates Janine Lopez, Leslie Bailey, Ryan Budhu, Sam Ferenc, Andrew Hirschel, Dale Kim, Colleen O’Gorman, Bou Lee, and Archana Rao Vasa.