On Aug. 9, 2023, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, suspended Monique Worrell, a Democrat, from her elected position as state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties because of his opposition to her criminal legal reforms and a general hostility toward elected Democrats. Worrell’s reforms included measures supported by her constituents, such as curtailing the use of cash bail, expanding programs diverting children convicted of nonviolent offenses away from incarceration, and implementing procedures to prevent police misconduct.
The suspension of Worrell, the state’s only Black female state attorney, was the latest in a pattern of politically motivated suspensions by the governor. In August 2022, DeSantis suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, also a Democrat, over political and ideological differences. The governor also had suspended several other duly elected officials, including a sheriff, a school superintendent, an elections supervisor and four school board members.
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit claiming the suspension effectively disenfranchised nearly 400,000 voters who cast ballots for Worrell and undermined the fundamental fairness and integrity of the electoral process.
The suit, filed on behalf of voters who elected Worrell and Florida Rising, a grassroots democracy-building organization, seeks Worrell’s reinstatement and a court ruling that the suspension violated rights guaranteed under the First and 14th amendments.