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Florida ruling kicks religious funding amendment off the 2012 ballot
TALLAHASSEE, Florida: Florida's statewide ballot for 2012 is one amendment lighter following a ruling made on Wednesday, December 14. However, in light of a 2011 approved law, the measure may return to the ballot shortly.
The proposed measure called for preventing individuals from being barred from participating in public programs if they choose to use public funds at a religious provider. Essentially, the measure moved to repeal the state's ban of public dollars for religious funding, also known as the "Blaine Amendment."
On December 14 Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis ruled that the legislatively-proposed measure would no longer appear on the 2012 ballot. Specifically, Lewis ruled that the phrase "consistent with the U.S. Constitution" was ambiguous and misleading. The phrase, Lewis said, implies that it would make the Florida Constitution conform with the U.S. Constitution's 1st Amendment.
The lawsuit also challenged 2011 legislation that allows for the Florida Attorney General's office to rewrite ballot summaries or titles when the Florida Supreme Court removes a certified measure from the statewide ballot. Lewis rejected that challenge. "The law under review does not, after all, give the Attorney General authority to re-write the amendment itself -- only the description of it," Lewis said.
- Florida 2012 ballot measures
- Florida Religious Freedom, Amendment 7 (2012)
- Laws governing the initiative process in Florida
- Florida's religious funding amendment for the 2012 ballot heads to court today
- Ocala.com, "Teachers sue over validity of proposed amendment to state constitution," July 20, 2011
- Florida State Senate, "SJR 1218: Religious Freedom (status and summary)," accessed April 13, 2011
- The Palm Beach Post, "Fla. judge knocks religious funding question off ballot; attorney general could put it back on," December 14, 2011