Florida Paper Urges Rejection of GOP’s Attempted Judicial Meddling


In an editorial, the Tampa Bay Times is urging voters to reject Amendment 5 on the general election ballot, which it calls “an attack on the independence of the state judiciary by the Republican-controlled Florida Legislature.” The proposed amendment will appear on the ballot in a 600-word summary “that is purposely confusing to voters,” the paper says. “Amendment 5 would put further limits on the court’s rulemaking power and give the state Senate a say in the appointment of high court justices. If the needed 60 percent of voters approve Amendment 5, the Legislature would gain dangerous new authority over the state’s judicial branch.”

The paper continues, “This amendment reflects the vindictiveness of Republican legislative leaders such as outgoing House Speaker Dean Cannon. The court removed three amendments from the 2010 ballot that had been written by the Legislature, each by a 5-2 vote of the justices. In each case, the justices properly concluded the amendments were misleading or confusing to voters. It is instructive that two of the rejected amendments, one on tax breaks and one on health care, were later rewritten and are on the November ballot. As retribution, Cannon denounced the court’s actions and proposed splitting the Supreme Court into two courts in a scheme that would have given Gov. Rick Scott three new appointments. When that proved too radical even for other Republican lawmakers, Amendment 5 emerged instead.” The paper calls it “the Legislature’s heavy-handed attempt to erode the independence of the state’s judiciary.”

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