Thursday, December 15, 2011

Meatloaf and Mulligans

Yesterday, the Leon County Circuit Court issued a ruling that removed Amendment 7, also known as the "Religious Freedom Act," from the 2012 ballot:

Orlando Sentinel | Judge tosses religious-funding question from 2012 ballot

There are two important takeaways from this article.

First, the proposed amendment was rejected when the judge ruled that the ballot summary was "legally defective," but the judge also upheld a new law passed earlier this year that allows Attorney General Pam Bondi to rewrite ballot summaries that are rejected for this reason.

Essentially, this gives the Legislature a "mulligan" - allowing them a second shot to try to provide legally compliant language.

The old system allowed citizen-initiated amendments to submit revised language if their proposed ballot summaries were tossed out by the courts, but did not afford the same opportunity to amendments that originated with the Legislature. This new procedure is much more efficient and makes sure that the amendments that end up on our ballots have been properly legally vetted.

The second thing to notice in that article is near the end, when they interviewed State Representative Scott Plakon, who had sponsored the Religious Freedom Act in the House. Plakon pointed out that the court had ruled in the Legislature's favor for two of the three issues in the case (that Bondi could submit a revised ballot summary, and that the title "Religious Freedom Act" was not misleading), and had a great comment:
...Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, who sponsored the Religious Freedom amendment in the House, said the judge's decision to uphold the new law on rewriting ballot summaries "could be precedent-setting."
"As Meatloaf said, 'Two out of three ain't bad,'" Plakon said.
Quoting Meatloaf regarding a constitutional law case? Awesome.

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