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House asks Supreme Court to dismiss Senate Democrat sine die lawsuit

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The House of Representatives is asking the Supreme Court of the State of Florida to dismiss a lawsuit filed by 13 Democratic senators arguing in its legal briefs that the separation of powers doctrine prohibits the high court from compelling legislators to return to Tallahassee.

“The Florida Constitution’s strict separation of powers provision, which is grounded in mutual respect among the branches, prohibits any branch of state government from “encroach[ing] upon the powers of another,” the House said in its response to the Democrats’ lawsuit filed Thursday. “The judicial branch cannot, consistent with the separation of powers, question or intrude upon the internal procedures or the manner in which the Florida House of Representatives has chosen to exercise its legislative prerogative to adjourn sine die.”

The House of Representatives also argued that the Democrats’ suit should be dismissed because it “utterly fails to establish any basis for this court to exercise its discretionary jurisdiction to issue a writ of mandamus. Petitioners have not even alleged that they have a “clear legal right” to the relief they seek in this lawsuit. Nor have Petitioners even argued that “the functions of government would be adversely affected absent an immediate determination by this Court”—a circumstance that is ordinarily a prerequisite to this Court’s consideration of an extraordinary writ petition.”

Additionally the House argues in its legal response that even if the “core constitutional and jurisdictional obstacles could be overcome” the Democrats’ petitions should still be denied on the merits.

“When the Florida House of Representatives adjourned sine die by motion on April 28, 2015, it acted in a manner consistent with the plain text of the Florida Constitution and the unbroken historical practice of both the House and Senate for at least the past 40 years.”

The Senate Democrats filed a petition in the Florida Supreme Court seeking a writ of mandamus declaring that the action of the Florida House of Representatives adjournment was illegal and compelling House members to return to Tallahassee before the scheduled end of the 2015 regular legislative session at 11:59 pm May 1.

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