William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal


Raven Peters


This Note aims to show how the current test of proportionality is insufficient in combatting excessive fines, especially considering the racist and discriminatory practices of felon disenfranchisement. In Part I, this Note evaluates the background of the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause and its recent incorporation against the states. Part II will provide insight into the history of felon disenfranchisement in Florida and the fight for voter restoration through the passage of Florida Amendment 4. This section will then tell of the subsequent implementation of Florida Statutes section 98.0751 requiring ex-felons to pay all fines and fees associated with their sentences. Part III will provide the new and improved test for weighing the Excessive Fines Clause. This section will evaluate the old test of proportionality before suggesting the test be adapted to include the ability to pay and the weight of the right infringed. Finally, Part IV will apply the new test to Florida Statutes section 98.0751 and illustrate how the Court should rule in its evaluation of not only this bill but also in like circumstances. While this Note focuses particularly on the weight of the right to vote as compared to the excessiveness of the fine, this test can be broadly applied to any infringement of a right via fines, through the lens of proportionality.

This abstract has been taken from the author's introduction.