A lawsuit recently filed against an amendment that would repeal language in Florida’s constitution banning outright taxpayer funding for religious institutions is also going after provisions in this year’s controversial new elections law.
The Florida Education Association has announced that its lawsuit will challenge a ballot measure set to appear on the 2012 ballot that seeks to open state coffers to religious institutions, ultimately directing state dollars to religious schools instead of public schools. The FEA also says its lawsuit “also challenges another piece of legislation passed by the legislature this year that provides that the state attorney general may rewrite a ballot title or summary of the court removes it from the ballot.”
“The lawsuit says that under the Florida Constitution, the Legislature may not delegate its expressed duties to another branch of government,” the group writes.
As the Florida Independent previously reported, Florida GOP legislators slipped little-noticed rules into this year’s elections bill that made it harder to challenge the language of a ballot measure. One provision creates stricter time limits for challenging ballot measures, as well as shifting responsibilities away from the Legislature. It allows the attorney general to rewrite an amendment’s ballot title or summary if it is successfully challenged in court.
Ron Meyer, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, said that these provisions “violate the separation of powers” in the state. He explained that the Legislature has given responsibility that is “purely a legislative matter” to the executive branch.
Groups from all over the state including the Florida Education Association, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Anti-Defamation League, and the ACLU of Florida filed the lawsuit jointly.