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Florida court dismisses lawsuit against three state supreme court justices

Florida's Second Judicial Circuit [official website] on Wednesday dismissed a lawsuit that sought to disqualify from the November 6th ballot three Florida Supreme Court justices who face a retention vote. The lawsuit alleged that the three justices unlawfully used court employees to further their election campaigns [AP report] in that the employees helped prepare the justices' election papers. In dismissing the lawsuit Circuit Judge Terry Lewis [official profile] ruled that the plaintiffs, two voters in Florida, lacked standing to sue because they failed to show how their situation differs from other voters. Many critics have labeled the lawsuit as a political power grab, as Florida Governor Rick Scott [official profile] would get to appoint replacements for the justices if they were disqualified from the ballot. The two voters who filed the lawsuit plan to appeal the trial court's decision.

Florida has been at the center of several election law controversies recently. Earlier this month a federal judge blocked enforcement [JURIST report] of a Florida statute that prevents minors from donating more than $100 to any political candidate or committee within an election period. Last month Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner [official profile] announced that the federal government will allow Florida access [JURIST report] to a US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] immigration database to challenge individuals' voting rights if the state suspects them of not being US citizens. In June a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida denied a request by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official websites] to issue a temporary injunction barring Florida from continuing the practice of purging its voter rolls [JURIST report]. The DOJ alleged that Florida's policy violates the Voting Rights Act (VRA) [text] as well as the National Voter Registration Act [text], which requires all voter roll maintenance to cease 90 days before the primary election, meaning all purging in Florida should have stopped by May 16. Florida also faces challenges to its purging policy from the ACLU-FL and a coalition of rights groups [JURIST reports] on behalf of several Florida citizens.

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