July 21, 2020

Judiciary Democrats to 11th Circuit Judges: Explain Involvement in Florida Voting Rights Case Despite Commitment to Recuse

Washington—All 10 Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats today called on three members of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals – Judges Barbara Lagoa, Robert Luck and Andrew Brasher – to explain their involvement in Jones v. DeSantis, a case currently before the court concerning the voting rights of 750,000 Florida residents.

None of the judges have disqualified themselves from participating in the case despite committing under oath during their Senate confirmation to recuse themselves from cases in which they had previously participated.

“As the first branch, it falls to Congress to oversee the federal judiciary,” the senators wrote. “That oversight includes a responsibility to ensure that sitting federal judges honor their commitments to the Senate and the public and follow all applicable rules and codes of judicial conduct.”

Letters

  • The letter to Judge Lagoa can be read here.

  • The letter to Judge Luck can be read here.

  • The letter to Judge Brasher can be read here.

Lagoa and Luck

Judges Lagoa and Luck were involved in the court’s decision to grant en banc review in the case despite previously participating in an advisory opinion on the law as members of the Supreme Court of Florida.

The Code of Conduct for United States Judges directs a judge to disqualify themselves if he or she “participated as a judge (in a previous judicial position)...concerning the proceeding or has expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy.”

Brasher

Judge Andrew Brasher apparently plans to participate in the case despite defending a similar Alabama felon disenfranchisement law in Thompson v. Alabama while serving as the Alabama solicitor general. According to a motion to disqualify filed by the Campaign Legal Center, Judge Brasher “raised the same legal arguments to defend against plaintiffs’...claims as the state” of Florida raises in Jones v. DeSantis.
The Code of Conduct for United States Judges directs a judge to disqualify themselves if he or she “participated as a...counsel...concerning the proceeding or has expressed an opinion concerning the merits of the particular case in controversy.”

In his Senate Judiciary Questionnaire, Judge Brasher wrote he would “recuse in any litigation where I have ever played a role” and “from any current or future case that challenges a government law or policy that I have previously defended.”

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