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This is what anti-democracy looks like!
Gov. Ron DeSantis is a problem. Pay attention. Also: The U.S. Supreme Court is a problem.
As I wrote on Twitter last night, I’ll stop writing about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis when he stops doing things that need to be written about.
My latest for MSNBC — “Ron DeSantis suspends a prosecutor for having different opinions than Ron DeSantis” — details a less-examined aspect of the Florida governor’s move to suspend Miami’s twice-elected prosecutor, Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren: The move is anti-democratic, and that is particularly concerning in the current political climate:
Warren has filed a lawsuit decrying his suspension, arguing not only that DeSantis' move exceeded the governor’s powers under Florida's constitution, but that it also violates the First Amendment. He wants a federal judge to order DeSantis to reinstate him.
That’s exactly what should happen. Democracy doesn't work if elected officials can yank other elected officials from office whenever one disagrees with the other’s views.
In an environment in which a former president refuses to acknowledge he lost the 2020 election and has elected officials and candidates advancing such lies, a governor looking for new and politically advantageous ways to ignore the voters and punish his political foes shouldn't be taken lightly.
Read it at MSNBC.
Meanwhile, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle, a Clinton appointee, has set a scheduling conference in Warren’s case against DeSantis for 2 p.m. next Friday, Aug. 26, to discuss the timeline and process for Warren’s request for a preliminary injunction to get him back in his office.
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ALSO IN FLORIDA: There’s always more.
U.S. District Judge Mark Walker issued a ruling on Thursday, Aug. 18, halting enforcement of part of Florida’s “Stop WOKE Act,” its effort — again, pushed by DeSantis — at legislating against “critical race theory.” Technically the Individual Freedom Act, Thursday’s ruling from Walker — an Obama appointee who had earlier clerked for Hinkle in Hinkle’s first year as a federal judge — barred enforcement of the part of the law aimed at employers.
The state’s argument in support of the legislation was, as Walker characterized it, that “the IFA does nothing more than ban race discrimination in employment.”
In their amended complaint, the companies suing the state characterized the effort differently: “The law was enacted with an obvious and stated purpose of silencing those who the Governor castigates as ‘woke’—which is to say that they advance ideas contrary to his own.” (Refer above to the Warren situation if you’re not already seeing a pattern.)
As for Walker, he — to put it mildly — did not buy the state’s argument.
“[T]o compare the diversity trainings Plaintiffs wish to hold to true hostile work environments rings hollow,” he wrote. “Worse still, it trivializes the freedom protected by Title VII [of the Civil Rights Act of 1964] and the [Florida Civil Rights Act] “to suggest that the two are the same.”
This challenge does not address the more-often discussed education part of the law, which has been challenged in other ongoing litigation.
WITHOUT REMEDY: Take Back the Court — a group that supports Supreme Court expansion due to the dangers that it believes the current court poses to democracy — highlighted a topic that might cause residual panic to young lawyers-to-be who just finished taking the bar exam but is of great importance: remedies.
Discussions of remedies, most broadly and simply put, are discussions of how and whether courts let people get some righting of the alleged wrongs that they bring to court. Remedies are ultimately about how the court resolves a successful case — such as money damages or, as in the case discussed earlier, injunctions. In addition, if it becomes more difficult to get into court or succeed in court, that might not be a direct limit on remedies, but it has that effect — by making remedies available to fewer people in fewer situations.
In this past Supreme Court term, Take Back the Court details in a new memo out this week, the justices made fewer remedies available to people in more circumstances. In other words, the majority curtailed both the how and the whether of remedies.
As the group put it, “By making it more difficult to vindicate our rights — and by removing consequences for those who violate them — the Court made it more likely that those rights will be trampled.”
Specifically, per the memo:
… the Court swung at:
The Sixth Amendment right to effective assistance of counsel;
The Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure;
Miranda rights read during arrests;
The rights of asylum applicants and other noncitizens;
The habeas rights of those fighting wrongful convictions; [and]
The rights of people with disabilities and those facing discrimination.
Read the memo here for more on actions limiting just in the past term alone.
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