DeSantis’ Appeal to Dismiss Migrant Flight Lawsuit Denied

Toni Koraza
Photo byMatt Johnson

DeSantis could be facing another serious trial.

Florida administration sought to dismiss a lawsuit filed after the state flew around 50 migrants from Texas to Massachusetts in September. But a Leon County circuit judge denied their motion.

A thorough hearing in the constitutional challenge brought by state senator Jason Pizzo, a Democrat from North Miami Beach, was made possible by Judge John Cooper's decision. The flights to Martha's Vineyard received widespread media coverage and coincided with DeSantis' repeated criticism of federal immigration laws.

Violating the Constitution

The reciprocity of the state budget and substantive laws is the subject of litigation. The lawsuit claims a portion of the funding for this year used to pay for the flights violates the Constitution of Florida.

"I deny the defendant's motion to dismiss on the grounds that I think we need to just hear out these issues," Cooper said after an almost two-hour hearing.

Florida leadership used the $12 million from the Department of Transportation to execute a "program to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state." The administration of DeSantis spent $615,000 of this budget to pay Vertol Systems Company to fly two planeloads of migrants on September 14th to Martha's Vineyard.

DeSantis' deputy general counsel Nicholas Meros contested that the budget modified state laws or instituted a new program.

Meros claimed that an immigration enforcement bill (SB 1808) permitted such trips. Cooper said the final hearing of the case would be on January 30th.

Florida is on a clear path. Even if this stunt proves unconstitutional this time around, Florida lawmakers seem to be adamant about changing the law to make shipping of migrants easier in the future. The saddest part is that we're talking about real families who risked their lives to seek asylum. And someone has been using them for political stunts and PR.

What do you think about DeSantis' legal troubles?

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