ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – School Board candidate Diyonne McGraw’s federal lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis, Jeff Childers, Childers Law, and Khan-Lienh Banko has been dismissed by U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor.
McGraw’s attorney had argued that her federal civil rights were violated when DeSantis declared her District 2 school board seat vacant on June 17, 2021, because she didn’t live in the district. DeSantis then appointed Mildred Russell to the seat, and now, with newly-drawn districts that put her residence in District 2, McGraw is challenging Russell for the seat in the August 23 election.
McGraw’s original complaint was that her right of access to the courts was violated, but the judge dismissed that complaint for lack of standing and failure to submit a claim. McGraw then submitted a Second Amended Complaint, which claimed that her due process rights were violated, specifically that the Defendants violated her fundamental right “to vote and have her vote counted.” The Defendants argued that McGraw suffered no harm because she voted, but McGraw argued that her vote had been “nullified” because she was removed from office.
The judge ruled that McGraw had standing on that claim but did not have standing on two of the injunctive relief orders she sought, which included requests for injunctions against future actions of the Governor and future actions of the Defendants and an order directing the Governor to withdraw his Executive Orders that declared her seat vacant and appointed her replacement.
The remaining claims were dismissed for “failure to state a claim.” As the judge wrote, “McGraw hasn’t pointed to any authority suggesting she had a legally protected interest in continuing to hold public office–let alone an office for which she was not qualified.”
The judge continued, “Separately, even if McGraw had a property interest in her office, she has not shown that removal from that office implicates the federal due-process right to vote, much less deprives her of it. By her logic, anytime someone is elected, he or she cannot be removed without violating the electors’ right to vote… In short, McGraw has not plausibly alleged a violation of a federal right.”
In the judge’s conclusion, he dismissed the case and stated that since McGraw had an opportunity to cure her pleading deficiencies and did not do so, her complaint is dismissed without leave to amend.
McGraw has not yet responded to our request for comment.