Florida Attorney General, Secretary of State Vow to Take Fight to Supreme Court
By Tom Tillison
Orlando Political Press
Yesterday, Circuit Court Judge James Shelfer removed Amendment 9, the Florida Healthcare Freedom Act, from the November 2010 ballot.
Amendment 9 states that any law or rule shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any individual to participate in any health care system against their will. The Act specifies that individuals cannot be fined, penalized or imprisoned for not participating in a mandated health insurance program.
So, what was hailed as one of the significant achievements of the 2010 Legistative Session is no more. The ruling will be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.
The lawsuit focuses on three isolated statements in the ballot summary but made no allegations as to any problems with the legislative enacted Amendment itself. The Attorney General, representing the Secretary of State, will make a final appeal to the Florida Supreme Court immediately.
Unlike citizen initiatives, the Florida Legislature does not enjoy the luxury of a Supreme Court review of ballot language prior to placement on the ballot. The Attorney General’s office argued last week and again today that if any ballot language was ‘confusing’ then the court should allow for that ballot summary language to be drawn directly from the amendment language.
During the hearing last week, the court ruled that such an action could not be allowed because the intent of the Florida legislature could not be established in court. The Florida House and Florida Senate filed Amicus briefs to clearly articulate their intent. Further, counsel for the Florida House and Florida Senate appeared in court to argue in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of State.
“The legislature, representing the people of Florida in these matters, passed what would be Article I, Section 28 of our state constitution guaranteeing Floridians the basic right to assert control over their own healthcare,” commented Representative Scott Plakon (R-Longwood). “For this court to use legally questionable reasoning and to ignore a 2004 Supreme Court order in order to deny Floridians an opportunity to vote on such a basic right is truly an outrage.”
“To any reasonable observer, the intent and spirit of this Amendment is clear. Putting the Amendment itself on the ballot can be easily done. Hopefully the Supreme Court will decide that the opportunity for Floridians to protect their healthcare freedom outweighs any arguments over process,” said Senator Baker (R-Eustis).
Visit the YES ON 9 Campaign at www.FLHealthcareFreedom.org for additional information.
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