Obama-appointed judge strikes down Florida election integrity bill, infers racism with lengthy partisan order

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In what critics say was a blatantly “partisan” move, a federal judge appointed by former President Barack Obama struck down a Florida election security/integrity bill on Thursday on the basis that it somehow makes “voting tougher for black voters.”

Republicans say the move was partisan because, besides just striking down the law, Judge Mark E. Walker also wrote a 288-page order rife with political rhetoric.

The order not only accused Florida Republicans of “attack[ing] the voting rights of” black Floridians but also included quotes from deceased civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. and attacks on the bill’s GOP sponsors.

“Walker weaved in history and the background of some of the legislative sponsors, including how state Sen. Dennis Baxley opposed establishing a slavery memorial at the Capitol and opposed a bill to replace the statue of Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith in Washington, D.C., with one of Mary McLeod Bethune, the famed Black educator,” according to Politico.

Not included in his order, it appears, was Baxley’s justification for opposing a slavery memorial: “I would rather celebrate overdoing the heartbreak of slavery. I wouldn’t want to build a memorial to child abuse. I wouldn’t want to build a memorial to sexual abuse. … I would like to take it in a more positive direction than a memorial to slavery,” he’d said in April of 2017, as reported at the time by the Tampa Bay Times.

Walker’s order even included an attack on the Supreme Court, which he accused of putting the right to vote “under siege” by allegedly “gutting” the Voting Rights Act:

Walker concluded his order by accusing Florida of engaging in “intentional discrimination” and requiring that the state hereby “get court approval for the next 10 years if it wants to make any future changes to” its voting laws, according to Politico.

The ruling pleased Marc Elias, the shady Democrat Party attorney defending the plaintiffs, a group of activists known as the League of Women Voters of Florida.

“Marc Elias, an elections lawyer affiliated with the Democratic Party, hailed a ‘sweeping victory,’ for his clients, which include the Florida League of Women Voters and a number of Black and Hispanic advocacy groups. They had sued against the law that was passed over Democratic lawmakers’ objections,” according to Florida Politics.

And yes, this is the same Marc Elias who’s linked to the Russian collusion delusion hoax and conspiracy theory, in addition to Black Lives Matter.

Florida Republicans meanwhile responded by bashing Walker, with Florida State House Speaker Chris Sprowls leading the charge.

“The illogical leaps and unsupported inferences in Judge Walker’s opinion amounts to a 288-page accusation of discriminatory intent based on limited analysis of data he thinks the Legislature might have had, the uncritical and complete acceptance of the comments of Democratic lawmakers, and a total disregard for other viewpoints,” the speaker wrote in a statement.

“His alleged pattern of discrimination over time amounts to a conspiracy theory that overlooks the reality of term limits, and his insertion of Federal preclearance over Florida’s election laws is an egregious abuse of his power. Judge Walker’s premise — that the Legislature and Governor may only amend election laws if they are requested by Supervisors of Election or supported by the Democratic Party — demonstrate that this opinion was a predetermined outcome in search of an overlong and poorly reasoned rationale.

The good news for Republicans is that this “partisan” ruling isn’t expected to stick, according to election law expert Rick Hasen, a professor at the University of California, Irvine. The bad news is it may not be undone until after the midterms.

“Many outside observers — including Hasen —- are skeptical that such an approach will withstand review by an appeals court. What is true is that state legislators already anticipated one small part of the ruling because this past session they repealed a portion of last year’s law regarding disclaimers third-party groups had to give to those signing up to vote,” Politico notes.

“Another element that may get lost is that Walker also did sign off on some elements of the new law, including restrictions on ‘ballot harvesting.’ But the key question, of course, is how quickly an appeals court will consider this case and whether the injunction Walker agreed to impose will still be in place during this year’s elections.”


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