Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Don't Be Dissin' da Lawyers Now, George 

George only hates lawyers until they become conservative enough for him to appoint them to the Federal bench. Another such cabal has done what it could to save his sorry ass yet again in Florida:

(via Miami Herald)
A federal appeals court on Tuesday delayed indefinitely a long-awaited Miami trial to decide whether more than 600,000 former felons in Florida could have their voting rights automatically restored.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta agreed to reconsider an earlier appellate panel's order to hold the trial on Florida's 136-year-old law that bars felons from voting.

The decision marked another turning point in the class-action case, which was filed weeks before Florida's divisive 2000 presidential election ended with George W. Bush winning the state -- and the White House -- by only 537 votes over Al Gore.

The ruling also means many ex-felons, who could make the difference in a tight race, will miss out on a chance to vote in another presidential election.

Gov. Jeb Bush's office and lawyers for the state praised the decision as a big boost for their side.

Lawyer Randall Marshall, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union in Florida, said the length of time it took the appellate court just to decide on the state's request for a rehearing -- seven months -- was not unusually long. But Marshall, who has been a vocal critic of the state's disenfranchisement law, said the governor could end it with the stroke of a pen.

''The governor could have an impact on this tomorrow, because he has the authority under the state Constitution to grant clemency in a much broader and quicker way than he has chosen to do so,'' Marshall said. ``He could restore their voting rights automatically with an executive order without requiring them to go through clemency.''
That's really all it would take. It wouldn't overturn the other restrictions the state of Florida has in its infinite wisdom decided to impose on people who have "paid their debt to society" and must struggle somehow to make a living after being released from prison. It wouldn't entitle them to sell real estate, work as barbers or hairdressers, or practice any of the other occupations which require state licenses, not that I ever really understood why one should have to get a license to cut hair anyway. It would just allow them to vote, dammit.

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