Politics State & National News

ACLU speaks on defeat of Florida Amendments 5, 6 and 9

November 7, 2012

The following statement regarding the defeat of proposed constitutional amendments 5 , 6 and 8 may be attributed to Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida.

Note: Amendment 5 would have given the state legislature power of the selection of judges. Amendment 6 would have eliminated the state’s right of privacy with respect to a woman’s right to choose. Amendment 8 would have paved the way for school vouchers for religious schools.


“In this election, we Floridians had to defend our constitution from assault by our own Legislature.

“The defeat of Amendments 5, 6 and 8 is a major victory for the people of Florida over the legislature which tried to deceive us into voting to surrender our civil liberties with misleading constitutional Amendments. The fact that the legislature came up short is a triumph for the constitutional rights of Floridians.

“Amendment 5 would have altered the delicate balance and separation of powers between the legislature and the courts by making the courts subservient to the legislature. The defeat of Amendment 5 is a victory for the independence of the judiciary on which all of our rights depend.

“The defeat of Amendment 6 also represents a victory over an attempted overreach by Tallahassee politicians – overreach into the private medical decisions of Florida women. In voting this amendment down, Floridians demonstrated that we trust Florida women to make private medical decisions rather than let legislators force decisions on them. We are thankful that the voters refused to amend Florida’s constitutional right of privacy, making sure that everyone remains protected.

“The voters also saw through the deceptive and misleadingly-titled ‘Religious Freedom’ Amendment and preserved historic separation of church and state. The defeat of Amendment 8’s means that the Florida Constitution’s no-aid to religious institutions provision will continue to protect us against the dangerous entanglement of government and religion that comes with taxpayer funding of religion.

“The legislature tried to pull the wool over the voters’ eyes, but the people of Florida demonstrated that we weren’t going to be fooled.

We are grateful for the support of our members, supporters, volunteers and local ACLU chapters across the state who worked hard with us to defend the Constitution from the legislature’s overreach.”

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  • RTDavis November 7, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Here is another case study that focuses on a growing problem in American political science and government. Throughout the country–with some variations because of differences between various state constitutions–there is a growing tension between executives, legislatures and senates, courts, and citizens; and the questions are numerous: Who will make decisions about what is best for the citizens? Will we have a “pure” democracy in which citizens vote on each and every issue? Will we have representative governments in which selected citizens speak for the rest of the citizens? Will we have courts making the decisions? How fixed or flexible are the constitutions? Can we afford to have citizens making constitutional decisions, or are there better ways for changing constitutions?

    My naive approach is this: citizens are not very competent at making constitutional decisions (or many other decisions for that matter when it comes to governance, simple because too many voters are woefully uninformed); therefore, citizens should not be given opportunities to amend constitutions. Moreover, we have governments for a host of reasons, and one of those reasons is this: the elected individuals will sort it out on our behalf, and if we do not like their decisions, then we have an opportunity to replace the decision makers.

    Yeah, I know this seems to some to be a superficial response to a complicated problem, but every time I see constitutional provision on ballots, I cringe when I think about the people who are voting on these provisions.

    Now, without further foaming and fuming, I step down from the constitutional amendment soapbox.