ORLANDO, Fla. — The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis over the suspension of former State Attorney Monique Worrell Thursday in the Middle District of Florida.
The complaint was filed less than a week before the Florida Supreme Court is set to hear arguments from Monique Worrell’s and the Governor’s legal teams.
SPLC claimed in the complaint DeSantis’ decision to suspend Worrell disenfranchised voters and undermined the fairness and integrity of the election process.
Nearly 400,000 voters in Orange and Osceola counties voted to elect Worrell as state attorney in November 2020. She garnered nearly 67% of the vote.
SPLC filed the suit on behalf of two Orlando residents who voted for Worrell in 2020. Florida Rising Together, a group whose mission is to increase voter representation in marginalized communities, is also listed as a plaintiff in the complaint.
“They feel like they’re vote has been stolen from them. They feel like they are voices have been taken away from them,” said Matletha Bennette, an attorney for Southern Poverty Law Center.
The suit states DeSantis had no grounds to suspend Worrell. It says there was no evidence she was “incompetent” or “neglected” her duty as state attorney.
Bennette says the suit aims to reinstate Monique Worrell and prove DeSantis’ decision to suspend her was “unconstitutional “, by violating the 1st and 14th amendment and “overriding the will of the voters.”
Bennette says DeSantis has a pattern of ousting elected officials that he has political or ideological differences with. The suit states DeSantis has removed a total of eight elected Democrats from office, including Worrell, and replaced the seats with Republicans.
“We don’t want to continue this pattern, this anti-democratic agenda, where we are effectively overruling and overriding the will of the voters. The right to vote is a very sacred and fundamental right,” Bennette said.
Channel 9 reached out to the Governor’s Office for comment on this lawsuit and the upcoming Florida Supreme Court hearing. A spokesperson responded, saying DeSantis’ executive order from August “speaks for itself.” His office still stands by the order, which states Worrell was “incompetent” and “neglected her duties” as State Attorney.
Channel 9 also reached out to Worrell. She did not respond.
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