Federal judge blocks Florida limit on campaign contributions by minors

[JURIST] A federal judge on Monday issued a temporary injunction [order, PDF] barring enforcement of a Florida statute [text] that prevents minors from donating more than $100 to any political candidate or committee within an election period. Under the law, adults are allowed to contribute up to $500 per election. The lawsuit was brought by Julie Towbin, a 17-year-old Florida resident who was unable to purchase a $150 ticket to a political dinner due to concerns about the law, and the suit was supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLU-FL) [advocacy website]. In her order, the judge found that the law was substantially likely to be a violation of Towbin's First Amendment rights to free expression. In a statement [text] Randall Marshall, Legal Director of the ACLU of Florida praised the decision:

This law put an unconstitutional limit on some citizens' ability to engage in political activities based solely on their age. Our laws should encourage everyone regardless of age—and especially young people—to participate in the political process. Instead, this law took away speech and political participation rights to young citizens.
Florida authorities are barred from enforcing the law until the judge makes a final ruling in the suit. The law did not apply to federal elections.

Florida election laws and policies have faced numerous federal challenges recently. Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner announced last month that the federal government will allow Florida access [JURIST report] to a US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration database to challenge individuals' voting rights if the state suspects them of not being US citizens. In June a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida denied a request [JURIST report] by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) to issue a temporary injunction barring Florida from continuing the practice of purging its voter rolls. The DOJ alleged that Florida's policy violates the Voting Rights Act (VRA) [text] as well as the National Voter Registration Act [text], which requires all voter roll maintenance to cease 90 days before the primary election, meaning all purging in Florida should have stopped by May 16. Florida also faces challenges to its purging policy from the ACLU-FL and a coalition of rights groups [JURIST reports] on behalf of several Florida citizens. Earlier in June, amidst calls to end its purging practices, Florida filed suit [JURIST report] seeking access to the DHS immigration database. Earlier that month, a spokesperson for Governor Rick Scott said that the state would continue to search for ineligible voters, even after receiving a letter from the DOJ ordering them to stop the practice [JURIST report].

 

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