In a win for Republicans, a federal appeals court temporarily reinstated provisions on Friday of a Florida voting law that had been blocked in a March ruling, emphasizing that it was too close to the election.

A three-judge panel also determined that a lower-court judge failed to presume the Florida state legislature was acting in good faith when he struck down provisions in the law for being intentionally discriminatory with its restrictions on mail voting, third-party voter registration efforts, and drop boxes.


"The district court never once mentioned the presumption. And while we do not require courts to incant magic words, it does not appear to us that the district court here meaningfully accounted for the presumption at all. For instance, the court imputed discriminatory intent to SB90 based in part on one legislator’s observation," the panel wrote.

The three-judge panel on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on the prior court order while it continues to evaluate the state's appeal against the ruling. This means the Florida voting law could be in effect for the election.

In March, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker, an Obama appointee, nixed provisions in the voting law Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into effect last year. He railed against Republicans in the legislature for their "grotesque history of racial discrimination" and sided with the plaintiffs, which included a group of voting rights advocates. In addition to striking down restrictions on drop boxes and a bevy of other rules in the bill, he banned the state legislature from passing related voting rules over the next decade without court approval.

"For the past 20 years, the majority in the Florida Legislature has attacked the voting rights of its Black constituents," he wrote in his ruling. "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."

The three-judge appeals court panel, all of whom were appointed by President Donald Trump, noted a Supreme Court ruling that said "the good faith of the state legislature must be presumed" in cases involving statutes that may be "tainted by discriminatory intent."

Additionally, the panel cited the "Purcell Principle," which provides guidelines for certain cases that could affect elections.

"The reviewing court must be cognizant that 'orders affecting elections ... can themselves result in voter confusion.' And that risk only increases as an election draws closer," the panel wrote. "For that reason, the Purcell principle teaches that 'federal district courts ordinarily should not enjoin state election laws in the period close to an election.'”


The Republican-led Florida legislature passed Senate Bill 90 last year following claims from Trump without evidence that there was rampant fraud in the 2020 election that deprived him of a victory. DeSantis and other Florida Republicans said the law was intended to stamp out voter fraud.