Skip to main content

The Florida Supreme Court yesterday struck a proposed state constitutional amendment from the November ballot.  The proposed amendment would have prohibited Florida from participating in the federal health care reform program.  

Florida has two ways of getting a proposed amendment on the ballot -- by petition, or by an act of the legislature.  This one was placed there by the Republican legislature.  It would have forbidden any law that compels participation by an individual, employer, or heath care provider in any health care plan.

But that's not what the ballot would have said.  

In Florida, the entire proposed amendment usually does not appear on the ballot.  The ballot contains only a summary, which is supposed to be an accurate representation of the proposed amendment. It is supposed to be clear and unambiguous.

The Republican legislature didn't want to risk letting voters know what the amendment really said, or what it was designed to do. So they loaded up the summary with political dog whistles. The ballot would have told voters that they were voting for "access to health care" and to protect the "doctor-patient relationship" and to guard against "mandates that don't work."

The Supreme Court ruled that the summary was misleading because the proposed amendment said nothing about "access to health care" or the "doctor-patient relationship" and did not explain what mandates it was talking about.  Instead, it used political rhetoric.  Under Florida law, political rhetoric cannot be placed on the ballot.

The proponents of the amendment -- the anti-health-care forces -- tried to save the proposed amendment by asking the Supreme Court to order that the entire proposal be put on the ballot instead of a summary.  The court said it does not have the power to do that.  It is not an activist court.  It can only do what the law authorizes it to do.

Predictably, Chief Justice Canady -- yes, the guy from the Clinton impeachment is now our Chief Justice -- dissented.  He accused the Court of thwarting the Legislature's intent to place the amendment before the voters.

Make no mistake about it.  These guys will be back.  They will fix the defects, or they will find another way to do it.

But for now, this is a small victory for health care reform.

Florida has two redistricting amendments on the ballot in November that might help change the balance of power in this state.  Right now, in a state where Democrats vastly outnumber Republicans, the legislature is dominated by Repulicans because of gerrymandering.  Progressives put two proposed amendments on the ballot to try to prevent that.  The Republicans added a poison pill -- a third amdment which would have nullified the effect of the other two.

Not surprisingly, the Legislature's ballot summary for the poison pill amendment was also misleading. It did not tell voters that, by voting for it, they would be voting to nullify the changes in the other two amendments. The Supreme Court also struck it from the ballot.  If the redistricting amendments pass, we might be able to get Florida back on the right track.

Here are links to the Florida Supreme Court's decisions.

http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/...

http://www.floridasupremecourt.org/...

Originally posted to webacknow on Wed Sep 01, 2010 at 06:06 AM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site