Florida Amendment 7 (2008)
|Not on Ballot|
| This measure did not or |
will not appear on a ballot
The measure was originally placed on the ballot on April 28, 2008, by the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (TBRC), along with six other tax-and-budget ballot measures, by Florida courts removed it.
The measure would have eliminated the constitutional ban in Florida against sending state tax money to religious institutions. It is a commission-referred constitutional amendment. It was approved for the ballot by the TBRC on March 26, 2008.
Removed from ballot by courts
On September 3, 2008, just hours after hearing oral arguments and questioning whether Amendment 7 was misleading to voters, the Florida Supreme Court removed Amendment 7 from the ballot. Justices raised questions of whether the Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission had overstepped its authority. Though the court gave only a one-page ruling stating that Amendment 5, Amendment 7, and Amendment 9 were stricken from the ballot, the court promised further explanation later.
Amendment 7 was written by Patricia Levesque. It received the minimum of votes needed from the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission (18) in order to be placed on the ballot.
Opponents and lawsuit
Seven members of the TBRC voted against putting Amendment 7 on the ballot, including Senate President John Mckay. Opponents said there is no need for a constitutional amendment in a preemptive strike against lawsuits, and that Florida courts have long been protecting faith-based programs that do good work. Other opponents included the Florida Education Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Anti-Defamation League.
The Florida Education Association filed a lawsuit against Amendment 7 in early June 2008. The lawsuit, filed in Leon County, Florida, named the Florida Secretary of State as the defendant, seeking to prevent that office from placing the measure on the November ballot.
The suit claimed that when the TBRC put the measure on the ballot, they went beyond its constitutional mandate to recommend taxation and budgetary changes by attempting in Amendment 7 to repeal the constitutional ban on state aid to religious institutions. Additionally, according to Ron Meyer, lead attorney in the lawsuit, "The commission has run amok."
Leon County Judge John C. Cooper heard two hours of arguments in the lawsuit on Monday, August 4. The Orlando Sentinel reported that he "seemed unimpressed" with parts of the claims brought by the state and pro-school voucher groups. Judge Cooper said he would wait to issue his order late Monday or on Tuesday, August 5.
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- Florida Catholic Conference
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- New York Time: "Court Blocks Florida Ballot Measures Intended to Help School Vouchers," Sep 4, 2008
- Palm Beach Post: "Revision may lift tax-faith barrier," March 27, 2008
- Miami Herald: "School groups attack 2 ballot items," June 14, 2008
- OrlandoSentinel.com: "Judge hears lawsuit on two school-voucher amendments," August 4, 2008