The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida, representing the Fair Elections for Democracy Campaign, secured a permanent injunction in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in its challenge against 2021’s Senate Bill 1890, a law that undermined the citizen initiative process and violated Floridians’ First Amendment rights. That law, signed by Governor Ron DeSantis, was to go into effect on July 1, 2021, and would have imposed a $3,000 limit on the donations individuals could make to sponsors of state ballot initiatives. A second law, 2022’s House Bill 921, would have modified that $3,000 limit to apply only to out-of-state contributors. That law was to go into effect on July 1, 2022, and was also enjoined today.
The restrictions of SB 1890 and HB 921 violated long-standing First Amendment case law. Decades ago, Florida tried and failed to implement a similar $3,000 contribution cap for citizen initiative sponsors. A legal challenge was brought, and the same U.S. District Court—affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court—struck down that limit as violating the First Amendment, which protects the freedom to express views on political matters and act collectively to do so. Despite decades of precedent holding that a similar contribution cap violated the First Amendment, SB 1890 and HB 921 were blatant attempts to obstruct this fundamental right.