The fate of three Constitutional Amendments is still hanging in the balance about six weeks from election day Nov. 6, and another three Amendments may suddenly be in a quandary.
The good news: There’s been some movement on reaching a conclusion on Amendments 7, 9 and 11 at the Florida Supreme Court.
As of noon Friday, lawyers on both sides of the case related to Amendments 7, 9 and 11 have filed legal briefs in the high court, and a final brief will be filed Monday.
It’s not clear if the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments before ruling on whether the Amendments will stay on the ballot or not.
The Amendments — 7, 9 and 11 — relate to topics ranging from oil drilling to vaping and certain death benefits.
At issue is that each of those Amendments involve more than one subject – which became the crux of a lawsuit over “bundling” that forces voters to say “yes” on topic they oppose to pass a topic they support, or vice versa.
In addition, Amendments 6, 8 and 10 are also bundled, and lawyers on Friday argued that the Supreme Court could also consider these Amendments to be unconstitutional and strike them from the ballot.
What’s confusing is that Amendment 8 – an education-related measure – was already removed from the ballot by the Supreme Court earlier this month. And the Court also ruled to keep both 6 and 10 on the ballot. Amendment 6 relates in part to crime victim rights and rights for the accused and is commonly known as Marsy’s Law, and 10 is related in part to elected, rather than appointed, county-level officials.
“If it should be appropriate to do so, this Court should also remove Amendments 6, 8, and 10 from the ballot on unlawful bundling grounds and 6 and 10 on misleading ballot language grounds,” Friday’s brief states.
As to Amendment 7, 9 and 11, a Tallahassee judge ruled earlier this month to strike the three Amendments off the Nov. 6 ballot, but Florida’s Secretary of State appealed to keep the measures on. That appeal made its way to the Florida Supreme Court.
Here is the ballot summary for each of those three Amendments:
Amendment 7: “Grants mandatory payment of death benefits and waiver of certain educational expenses to qualifying survivors of certain first responders and military members who die performing official duties. Requires super-majority votes by university trustees and state university system board of governors to raise or impose all legislatively authorized fees if law requires approval by those bodies. Establishes existing state college system as constitutional entity; provides governance structure.”
Amendment 9: “Prohibits drilling for the exploration or extraction of oil and natural gas beneath all state-owned waters between the mean high-water line and the state’s outermost territorial boundaries. Adds use of vapor-generating electronic devices to current prohibition of tobacco smoking in enclosed indoor workplaces with exceptions; permits more restrictive local vapor ordinances.”
Amendment 11: “Removes discriminatory language related to real property rights. Removes obsolete language repealed by voters. Deletes provision that amendment of a criminal statute will not affect prosecution or penalties for a crime committed before the amendment; retains current provision allowing prosecution of a crime committed before the repeal of a criminal statute.”