TALLAHASSEE (FLV) – A lawsuit filed in Leon County by South Florida Democrat Jason Pizzo, a State Senator from North Miami Beach, was dismissed by Circuit Judge John Cooper.
In a legal complaint filed after Gov. Ron DeSantis flew nearly 50 migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, declaring Florida is not a “sanctuary state,” Pizzo alleged the governor violated the state Constitution and Florida law.
The judge agreed that Pizzo does have standing to file suit, citing a 1972 Florida Supreme Court ruling, but said the complaint needs more specific “facts and clarity.”
The Democrat state senator alleged DeSantis did not have the authority to use the $12 million lawmakers approved for the Florida budget to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. It was earmarked “for implementing a program to facilitate the transport of unauthorized aliens from this state consistent with federal law.” It also permitted the Department of Transportation to “negotiate and enter into contracts with private parties, including common carriers, to implement the program.”
During the hearing, Cooper ruled that Pizzo does have standing, but the lawsuit should be amended with further arguments and allegations citing “additional facts and clarity, similar to what I’ve heard today and similar to what’s in the response but I don’t think that’s in the complaint.”
DeSantis’ Department of Transportation reportedly paid around $1.5 million to Vetrol Systems Company, Inc., for the two flights north.
Pizzo is questioning the constitutionality of the relocation program.
“I would like to see the complaint divided essentially into two counts,” Judge Cooper explained. “Count one is the constitutionality argument … and the ‘sue-ability’ issues of the defendants.” He also urged Pizzo’s lawyer, Mark Herron, to argue DeSantis is the “proper defendant.”
“I think there needs to be more specific allegations as to what if any involvement the governor had in this,” he went on.
DeSantis’ deputy general counsel, Nicholas Meros, said Pizzo did not demonstrate a need for an injunction.
“Plaintiffs have to show and have to specifically allege and demonstrate their entitlement to relief,” he said. “He would have to show a bona fide, practical need for that. … It has to be unique and specific to the plaintiff. It cannot be a general need or declaration.” Cooper disagreed, citing a 1972 case which ruled legislators had legal standing to sue the state without demonstrating direct injury.
Pizzo is pleased Cooper agreed he had standing on the issue: “We walk out of here just knowing we’ve got to show our work, show our answers.”
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