Florida Supreme Court, Amendment 4 (1940)

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The Florida Supreme Court Amendment was a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment in Florida which was approved by voters in the general election on November 5, 1940.

This amendment modified Article V of the Florida Constitution to create a 7th Supreme Court Justice, to allow the court to act in divisions, and to designate the Chief Justice as chief administrative officer.[1]

Text of measure

The language that appeared on the ballot:


To amend Section 2 and 4, Article 5, Florida Constitution, so as to create a seventh Justice for the Florida Supreme Court, to provide the manner for his election, to empower the court to act in divisions and designating the Chief Justice as chief administrative officer of the Court.[2][3]

Constitutional changes

Section 2. (a) The Supreme Court shall consist of seven (7) Justices and the term of office of each Justice shall be six years; no term of any incumbent shall be affected by this amendment.

(b) Each Justice of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified electors of the State at the time and places of voting for members of the legislature, at the general election next preceding the expiration of each term of such office.

(c) In the event of the ratification of this amendment it shall thereupon be the duty of the then Governor to appoint one additional Justice of the Supreme Court and he shall hold office from the date of his appointment until Tuesday after the first Monday in January, 1943, and his successor shall be elected at the general election in 1942 to hold office for a term of six years beginning Tuesday after the first Monday in January, 1943.

(d) The successors of the Justices of the Supreme Court shall be elected at the general election next preceding the expiration of their respective terms of office, but in event of a vacancy in office of any Justice and there be an unexpired term the successor shall be elected for the balance of the unexpired term.

Section 4. (a) The Supreme Court may hear, consider and determine cases and exercise all its powers and jurisdiction as a single body in which case a majority of the members of the Court shall constitute a quorum for the dispatch of business; or it may exercise its powers and jurisdiction in divisions.

(b) The Circuit Judges shall at all times be subject to call to the Supreme Court by that Court or the Chief Justice thereof, and during the call shall be members thereof as associate justices to act in place of any absent, disqualified or disabled justice or for assignment to a division, but no division shall include more than one circuit judge. A division shall consist of three members of said court exclusive of the Chief Justice, and the judgment of a division concurred in by the Chief Justice shall be the judgment of the Court unless such case involves (1) capital punishment, or (2) the determination of a State or Federal constitutional question wherein shall be brought into controversy the constitutionality of a Federal or State statute, rule, regulation or municipal ordinance, or (3) there be a dissent to the proposed judgment of a division by a member thereof or the Chief Justice, or (4) ordered by the Chief Justice to be considered by two divisions; whereupon it shall require the consideration of two divisions and the Chief Justice.

(c) The Chief Justice shall be the chief administrative officer of the Court and responsible for the dispatch of business and procuring consistent decisions; he shall not be required to examine the record of a cause but may accept the conclusions of fact found by a division and state in the opinion or accompanying statement and act upon the law so stated and discussed and its application to such fact, but in event of an equal division between those members properly considering a cause, he shall examine the record and participate therein as other justices. In the event the Chief Justice be unable to act for any cause the Justice longest in continuous service and able to act shall act instead with like effect.[1]

Path to the ballot

  • The amendment was placed on the ballot as House Joint Resolution 54 of 1939.
  • The amendment was filed in Office Secretary of State on June 12, 1939.[1]

See also

Suggest a link

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Florida Constitution Revision Commission, "Amendments, Election of 11-5-40"
  2. The Evening Independent, "Sample Ballot for Election Nov. 5," November 4, 1940
  3. Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.