Florida legislative leaders are asking a federal court to dismiss claims against them in a lawsuit over congressional redistricting. Attorneys for House and Senate leaders Tuesday filed a 20-page motion, arguing that the lawmakers are shielded from the claims.
The motion came in a lawsuit filed this month on behalf of the groups Common Cause Florida and FairDistricts Now and voters in Leon, Gadsden, Orange, Lee, and Miami-Dade counties.
The lawsuit seeks to have a three-judge federal panel set U.S. House districts amid a dispute between the Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis about a new congressional map.
DeSantis on Tuesday vetoed a congressional plan passed by lawmakers and scheduled a special session from April 19 to April 22 to draw new lines.
The federal lawsuit names as defendants, Governor Ron DeSantis; Secretary of State Laurel Lee; Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby; House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor; Senate Reapportionment Chairman Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero; Sen. Jennifer Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican who chairs the Senate Select Subcommittee on Congressional Reapportionment; House Redistricting Chairman Tom Leek, R-Ormond Beach; and Rep. Tyler Sirois, a Merritt Island Republican who chairs the House Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee.
Tuesday’s motion focused, in part, on what is known as “absolute legislative immunity,” which is designed to shield lawmakers from lawsuits related to actions they have taken in the Legislature.
“The complaint makes no allegations that the Florida legislators took any actions or inactions which fell outside their legislative duties that injured the plaintiffs,” the motion said. “Moreover, district courts have consistently applied the doctrine of absolute legislative immunity to protect state legislators in redistricting cases similar to this one.”