The Florida Supreme Court on March 4 unanimously rejected a lawsuit by Florida senators aimed at forcing Gov. Rick Scott (R) to accept federal funding for a proposed $2.7-billion high-speed rail line between Orlando and Tampa, effectively ending a last-ditch effort to save the project. The lawsuit, filed by Sen. Thad Altman (R) of Melbourne and Sen. Arthenia Joyner (D) of Tampa, had asserted that Scott lacked the authority to override the actions of a previous legislature, which had approved the project.
Justices were not convinced of the senators’ argument. In a brief, one-page ruling, the court stated: “The petitioners have not clearly demonstrated entitlement to … relief. Accordingly, the emergency petition is hereby denied.”
The senators filed suit on Feb. 28, after Gov. Scott publicly rejected the federal funds on Feb. 16, without notifying legislators. Shortly thereafter, a veto-proof majority of Florida senators sent a letter to the governor rebuking him for denying the federal funds.
The Tampa-to-Orlando line had been one of the highest-profile projects for the Obama administration’s high-speed rail initiative, and was considered the first in line for completion.