After becoming Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis While he took office in 2019 and embarked on a culture war, lawsuits against far-right Republicans from various disenfranchised communities have piled up.
Mr. DeSantis is fighting a lawsuit with what is described as a blank check from Florida’s supermajority Republican Congress. ing.
In recent years, DeSantis’ ultra-conservative legislative policies have drawn the ire of large corporations, including Disney, as well as many marginalized communities. The so-called “Don’t say you’re gay” Specification,abortion restrict and ban African American Studies These are just a few of DeSantis’ many extremist policies that have been met with costly lawsuits in states where residents are already struggling with the cost of living.
“The list of legal challenges stemming from DeSantis’ unconstitutional legislation is endless,” said Democratic state senator Lori Berman.
“We want Floridians to support laws restricting drag shows for children, laws banning Chinese citizens from owning homes and land in Florida, laws suppressing young and black and brown voters, gender affirmation, I have seen the governor justify many, if not all, of his legislative priorities, such as laws banning Any retaliation against Disney for showing concern and support for the LGBTQ+ community is well deserved,” she said.
As a result of increased lawsuits against DeSantis, the Miami Herald paid the governor’s legal costs. report Last December prices soared to at least $16.7 million.
In a legal battle against Disney following Disney’s accusations of Mr. DeSantis’ anti-LGBTQ+ laws, the governor and his A handpicked board will cost nearly $1,300 an hour in litigation costs.Management of Rights to Disney World, Insider report.
“Disney is a perfect example of that. It doesn’t hurt Floridians. Disney’s entire lawsuit is due to Mr. DeSantis’ ego and his hurt feelings,” Democratic state senator Tina Polsky said.
“Taxpayers are paying for the cost of passing unconstitutional bills and continuing his petty revenge,” she added. you wouldn’t even care. “
while in another case covered The DeSantis administration has asked Washington, D.C.-based elite conservative law firm Cooper & Kirk to defend the governor against his numerous anti-awakening laws, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The company’s lawyers charge $725 an hour, according to contracts reviewed by Orlando Sentinel. As of June 2022, the state has licensed nearly $2.8 million in legal services from Cooper & Kirk alone, the media reports.
As the taxpayer’s legal costs rise against DeSantis’ legislative agenda, critics include: civil rights organizations Democratic lawmakers in the state lashed out at Mr. DeSantis’ policies, calling them unconstitutional and merely a political stunt designed to put him at the forefront of the Republican primary.
“DeSantis went to Harvard for his studies. [law degree]. This person needs to understand the restrictions imposed on him and the state by the United States Constitution and the Florida State Constitution. He knows those constraints, but he doesn’t care. His goal is to pass a deliberately unconstitutional law and file a legal challenge to overturn long-held protections of the conservative Supreme Court,” Berman said.
Nova Southeastern University law professor Bob Jarvis echoed the sentiment, comparing DeSantis to his main competitor and current Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, saying they were on the same page. rice field.
“Ron DeSantis is a Harvard Law graduate. You can, but DeSantis doesn’t have that kind of defense,” Jarvis said.
Despite this, Mr. DeSantis seems unfazed.
“Mr. DeSantis knows very well that what he is doing is unconstitutional and illegal. Trained lawyers are very cautious, so they are not only more knowledgeable, but also less caring lawyers. The presence of politicians is extremely remarkable,” Jarvis said.
Jarvis said it doesn’t matter if DeSantis wins or loses the legal battle because he knows he “ultimately controls the Florida Supreme Court.”
“He’s playing a game of ‘Heads, I win, Backs, you lose.’ If so…he could say to the media and the public, “I was right and the court agreed with me and the evidence is in the water.” ” he explained.
“But it’s even better for DeSantis when they rule against him… DeSantis can stand up and say, ‘These crazy judges don’t want our kids to have a drag show.’ want our kids to see, want to teach our kids to be gay, want to make Disney”s terrible company. The reason I get is because I will definitely remove these judges and replace them with judges with traditional American morality,” Jarvis added.
As Mr. DeSantis continues his costly legal battle, the state’s supermajority Republican Congress appears to have his full backing.
“We are in a litigious society,” says State Senate Speaker Kathleen Pasidomo. Said “I want the governor to be in a position where he can speak his mind,” said Senate Budget Committee Chairman Doug Broxon, said Tallahassee Democrat.
Perhaps the most obvious example of Congress supporting his legal battle as Republicans rush to defend Mr. DeSantis: $16 million It will be included in the state’s $117 billion budget and will be used only for litigation costs.
Democratic House Majority Leader Fentrice Driskel told The Guardian that the budget is a “blank slate” for the government. Republican Party And the result of zero responsibility.
“The legislative branch is in charge of checking the power of the executive branch. Giving him blank powers to fight these wars in the courts basically means that there are no checks and balances when it comes to the Florida government. I’m just saying,” Driskel said.
“It’s a waste…they’re just allowing this one person to impose his will on the state of Florida, and they’re going to waste taxpayer dollars for it,” she said, adding, “Most Florida people We can’t afford rent, property insurance rates are skyrocketing, and we could have put that money toward affordable housing.”
Driskel went on to describe Medicaid iBudget Florida, a waiver program that provides access to certain services for Florida residents with disabilities. waiting list It has over 22,000 inhabitants.
“Republicans have a very hard time getting off the waiting list because of the lack of funding for Medicaid. We can use that money to fund the waiting list and get people off the waiting list. I think it’s only budgeted for $2 million and if you add the $16 million added for these culture wars it’s a whopping $18 million probably nine times more people can be taken off the waiting list,” Driskel said.
DeSantis is still embroiled in legal woes at the expense of Florida taxpayers, but there is perhaps a single group that has benefited the most from all the legal battles, Jarvis told The Guardian. rice field.
“Attorneys who got that $16.7 million, it’s money from heaven. It’s money that fell on their laps… whenever there’s a loser, the loser here is the Florida taxpayer, There are winners, and the winners here are the lawyers who are collecting huge amounts of money. You will understand,” he said.
“DeSantis was God’s gift to lawyers,” he added.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/jun/04/ron-desantis-lawsuits-cost-florida-taxpayers Florida Taxpayers Receive Ron DeSantis Culture Wars Lawsuit Bills | Ron DeSantis