How much more do Florida taxpayers have to tolerate of DeSantis extra-constitutional actions?

The Governor and the State of Florida continue to take an extra-constitutional approach to governing that has led to a system break during a deadly pandemic which has claimed the lives of close to 50,000 Floridians. Not only are Florida’s citizens getting ill and dying in remarkable numbers but the taxpayers are on the hook to defend the Governor’s lawlessness and Executive overreach.

While COVID rages in Florida, and the state accounts by some counts for as many as 25% of national deaths from the pandemic on an average day (despite having only 6.7% of the nation’s population), Governor Ron DeSantis plays cultural warrior on the virus and spends his time secretly concocting ways to appear as reckless as possible to placate extreme forces nationally.

What has become obvious is that DeSantis populist rhetorical approach now includes attacking corporations and business, which is just as well since Florida Republicans have been unsuccessful at creating the sort of climate for business and innovation that has taken hold in much of the rest of the country.

 As we’ve repeatedly discussed on this site, in order to keep the performative art about COVID going, the Governor shifted to a radical anti-business, anti-capitalist position and began an assault on Florida’s private industry. That’s led to a lawlessness that has been pinned back in court.

But in order to engage in such lawlessness you must defend it in court. The Governor has been draining the taxpayers as he continuously takes Executive Action or signs legislation he pushed through the Legislature that is plainly beyond the constitution of this state.

DeSantis lawless approach that seeks to crush both local governments and private businesses. But fortunately thus far courts have pinned him back, though it must be noted the highly-politicized First District Court of Appeal has repeatedly bailed out Florida Republicans overreach in the past, basically taking a position that whatever any Governor does is legal. Very Nixonian that…

Anyhow, for a refresher here are DeSantis recent court defeats.

  • On July 1, Trump appointee U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor issued a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of Florida Senate Bill 1890. SB 1890 was designed to set $3,000 limits on campaign contributions to committees in support of or opposition to ballot initiatives during signature gathering. 
  •  On June 30, 2021 U.S. District Court Judge Robert Hinkle entered a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of SB 7072 the so-called Big Tech “Censorship” Law. In his ruling, Judge Hinkle specifically noted DeSantis’ flaunting of basic constitutional rights, noting that “The state has asserted it is on the side of the First Amendment; the plaintiffs are not. It is perhaps a nice sound bite. But the assertion is wholly at odds with accepted constitutional principles…” The order is on appeal.
  • On August 8, 2021 U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Williams issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the enforcement of DeSantis’ vaccine passport ban as applied to cruise ships.
  • On August 27, 2021 Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled that DeSantis acted outside his authority when his administration ordered that local school districts could not require that students wear masks. ​​Judge Cooper found that DeSantis violated the due process rights of School Boards under the Parent’s Bill of Rights and that the Executive Order and Department of Education Rule were “arbitrary and capricious.” DeSantis immediately appealed, which triggered an automatic stay of Judge Cooper’s order. However, on September 8, 2021, Judge Cooper found good cause to vacate the stay pending appeal – reinstating his order and invalidating DeSantis’ ban on requiring masks in schools. On September 9, 2021, DeSantis filed an emergency appeal in the First District Court of Appeal which the First DCA upheld and reversed the Cooper decision to vacate the stay. It should be noted the case remains in front of the First DCA.

In this time where an Executive is abusing his power while socking it to the taxpayers and private industry, it’s good that the Democrats have a Chairman who has been a Chief Executive in his own right. Former Miami Mayor and current Florida Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz said the following regarding DeSantis continued court setbacks.

“Over the past weeks, rulings by judges at different levels of our judicial system have painted a damning portrait of our Governor. In case after case they have found DeSantis’s arguments patently unconvincing and his actions unconstitutional. In spite of his claims, his authoritarian attempts at twisting constitutional principles to further a partisan and deeply ideological agenda have consistently endeavored to make our state less free and less safe.
“We should be thankful that, at least for now, the court system has provided a firewall that provisionally protects Floridians from DeSantis’s and the GOP’s disingenuous, dystopian and distorted views of our constitutional freedoms.
“The ultimate judgement will come in November of 2022, when the citizens of our state will finally have the chance to rule on DeSantis’s cynical, self-serving and dictatorial behavior. For the future of our state, it is essential that the voters dismiss DeSantis with prejudice from the Governor’s mansion.”

Florida Democrats Chairman Manny Diaz, September 10, 2021

One thing often lost is the amount of taxpayer money all of this is costing Florida. The constant court cases and appeals involved in DeSantis lawless and authoritarian approach impact Florida’s citizens more than many are discussing.

We will keep a continued eye on this situation as it evolves.

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