Florida middle school students know why a separation of powers is crucial to a legitimate government, but Amendment 5 apparently doesn’t get it. Now, Florida voters hold that precious balance in their hands on Election Day, which could spell disaster for the future of law-making in our state. Vote NO on 5 and end this attempt to “fix” what isn’t broken.
The framers of our Constitution knew a fair and just government requires a system of checks and balances between its branches (executive, judicial and legislative). Apparently, that’s not good enough for some politicians who are attempting to change our state constitution and ultimately diminish those checks and balances. Opponents are calling it a power grab of conservative legislators to have more control over our courts. That’s not at all what the founding fathers had in mind.
Plain and simple, the controversial Amendment 5 would give lawmakers authority to confirm Supreme Court justices selected by the governor, view complaints against justices as soon as they are filed, and more easily override court rules. What makes it so controversial is its blatant attempt to allow one branch of government make crucial decisions over another. As for overriding court rules, the purpose of judges is to determine if laws are constitutional and/or are being executed lawfully. If we give the power to override judicial decisions back to the lawmakers, that would be like handing the keys to the jail over to the inmates and trusting them to “do the right thing.”
Supporters argue it would improve oversight and accountability, but democrats and republicans alike (including former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush) agree Amendment 5 is another attempt to put politics into the courts to intimidate justices who have struck down new laws as unconstitutional. Under our current system, state lawmakers can override rules with a 2/3 majority vote, which most people agree is a high enough standard to prevent the Legislature from intervening in all but extraordinary circumstances (for example death penalty cases). Rarely do lawmakers weigh in on judicial decisions, but Amendment 5 would eliminate the Court’s independence.
Opponents of the bill have also raised questions about whether the Florida House speaker would use complaints to intimidate judges they dislike. Under the current system, a court panel investigates complaints internally and releases the information only if they find probable cause. Some misguided lawmakers want complaints out in the open, even if it discourages citizens from filing complaints in order to protect their own privacy. It’s simply not good for Florida voters.
The Law Offices of Robert Rubenstein understands Florida law and how it protects your rights. We hope you’ll VOTE NO on 5 so the Legislature and the Judiciary can continue to protect your rights in a fair and non-political way.