Chief United States District Judge, Mark E. Walker, quotes liberally from the speeches and writings of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in his ruling declaring Florida’s new voting law unconstitutional:
“On August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. In its most memorable passage, he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Many know and celebrate Dr. King’s speech — or at least its second half, given extemporaneously after Mahalia Jackson called on Dr. King to tell the crowd about his dream. But most do not know that, only three years later, Dr. King told NBC News “that dream that I had that day has in many points turned into a nightmare.” As he explained, Dr. King had “come to see that we have many more difficulties ahead and some of the old optimism was a little superficial and now it must be tempered with a solid realism. And I think the realistic fact is that we still have a long, long way to go…”
Likewise, while this Court lauds the idealism of Dr. King’s dream in 1963, this Court is not so naive to believe that the Florida Legislature would not pass an intentionally discriminatory law in 2021. We do not live in a colorblind society — not that this was ever Dr. King’s point.
The evidence bears that out. In Florida, White Floridians outpace Black Floridians in almost every socioeconomic metric. In Florida, since the end of the Civil War, politicians have attacked the political rights of Black citizens. [emphasis mine] In Florida, though we have come far, “the realistic fact is that we still have a long, long way to go.” For the past 20 years, the majority in the Florida Legislature has attacked the voting rights of its Black constituents. They have done so not as, in the words of Dr. King, “vicious racists, with [the] governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification,” but as part of a cynical effort to suppress turnout among their opponents’ supporters. That, the law does not permit.”
IT IS ORDERED:
- This Court declares that § 101.69(2), Florida Statutes (2021), as amended by SB 90, is unconstitutional.
- This Court declares that § 97.0575(3)(a), Florida Statutes (2021), as amended by SB 90, is unconstitutional.
- This Court declares that the prohibitions against “engaging in any activity with the intent to influence or effect of influencing a voter” under § 102.031(4)(a)-(b), Florida Statutes (2021), as amended by SB 90, is unconstitutional.
- In Case No. 4:21cv187, Plaintiffs are entitled to no relief under the Americans with Disabilities Act on Count III of their amended complaint, ECF No. 45.