Op-Ed

Legislators are considering a slew of damaging bills | Opinion

In January, Desmond Meade, ex-felon and president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, filled out a voter registration form in Orlando.
In January, Desmond Meade, ex-felon and president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, filled out a voter registration form in Orlando. AP

SB 168 stokes fears

In 2018, I resigned as U.S. Ambassador to Panama, as I could no longer serve a president whose professed American values were so drastically different than mine. My wife and I chose Florida as our new home, in part, because of its diversity and the many vibrant and thriving immigrant communities.

But on this Florida legislative session, my chosen home feels threatened. Once again, I find my values in conflict with those elected to serve my new home state. Therefore, I write to urge our elected leaders to voice their opposition to Senate Bill 168, a bill that does nothing to make us safer and, instead, stokes fear and hatred of the many different immigrant communities in my adopted state. This bill forces community officials to cooperate in the detention and deportation of immigrant families. As a state, and as a nation, we are better than this.

Gov. Ron DeSantis understands that in a system of dual sovereignty, it is neither the obligation, nor even the rightful role, of a state to engage in policymaking on immigration. Local law enforcement should be responsible for finding and stopping real criminals, not usurping the role of federal immigration agents. We should not burden them with chasing down those immigrants who are often “criminalized” for simply working hard and paying taxes while being caught in the labyrinth of a broken federal immigration system.

The national conversation on immigration is plagued with prejudicial and divisive rhetoric. We need to keep that conversation out of our local politics. Florida does not need a wall, whether actual or metaphysical, to separate us from each other. In Florida, one out of every five residents is an immigrant, and we know full well that immigrants strengthen our communities, our state and our country. As a Marine and an ambassador I defended this great nation. Many of my fellow Floridians did just the same. Lending our voices in opposition to this hateful and unproductive legislation is nothing less than a continuation of that public service and a promise to stay true to the values that have always made America great.

John Feeley, board member,

IMPAC, Miami

Public education matters

We need to spend more money on public education. No one will disagree with that. However, our conversations around education funding in Florida almost singularly begin with one question: “How much?”

“How much?” matters, but that should not be the only question we ask ourselves when it comes to the state’s distribution of more than $20 billion in education funding each year. We should also be asking “How fair?” How fairly are we distributing the dollars -- and are we doing so with equity and transparency.

Along with tremendous gains in student outcomes, Florida’s spending on public education has increased in the year’s following the recession. But a flaw in Florida’s public education funding formula has left dozens of counties — Miami-Dade included — without their fair share of those additional dollars. These dollars often leave local school districts unable to invest fully in teachers and classrooms.

Florida’s education funding is complicated. Very complicated. Some of that complication is in the dozens of factors that are taken into consideration when determining how much each school district receives to educate a student. The factor that we believe most dramatically impacts the equity and transparency of public education is the “District Cost Differential.”

The District Cost Differential, also known as DCD, is a variable in Florida’s education funding formula that purports to adjust school district allocations depending on criteria that may dictate the cost of hiring teachers. In fear of getting too technical, the DCD was amended in 2006 to use a “price-level index” to determine how school districts would be weighted. This formula used factors like “proximity to the beach” as variables in determining what wage a teacher would be willing to accept. You can instantly see why such criteria is so questionable when considering the differential communities should receive to pay teachers.

So, what does this mean for Miami-Dade County?

While the full impact of the flawed DCD may not be known, Miami-Dade County Public Schools believes that hundreds of millions of dollars have been directed away from our community’s classrooms and teachers as a result of the flawed formula. Last session, the Florida Legislature commissioned a study to look into the accuracy and transparency of the DCD – and just this past month, the Balmoral Group released its study. The findings were clear: The current funding formula is flawed. A more accurate formula exists. Changes should be made.

HB 1031/SB 1284 would replace the price-level index currently used for the DCD with a far-more-accurate index that takes into consideration comparable wages. The new formula would accurately define the “true cost” of living in Miami and the comparable wage our teachers deserve. Our legislation is supported by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the Board of County Commissioners, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Miami-Dade and it is a priority for our legislative delegation. This is an issue that should (and will) bring us all together.

Our teachers deserve better. Our community deserves better. Florida deserves better.

And, this legislation will make better possible.

By Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr. and

Rep. Vance Aloupis

MDX plan won’t work

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’ proposal to create “MDX Plus”— an expanded expressway authority in the hands of Miami-Dade elected officials with authority over MDX’s tollways plus the Florida Turnpike in Miami-Dade does not solve what ails MDX. It’s just MDX but with more toll roads controlled by politicians.

MDX was created in 1994 to maintain and operate five tollways in Miami-Dade County — SR 836, SR 112, SR 874, SR 878, and SR 924. Control of these tollway was conveyed to MDX from the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). MDX tolls who wholly fund MDX operations and projects. The fundamental structural problem that plagues MDX, which the Mayor’s proposal does not address is in its myopic vision. It exists to collect tolls and expand tollways in a never-ending cycle of congestion. The Florida’s Expressway Authority Act, which allowed creation of MDX, states: “Each authority shall construct expressways.”

MDX’ laser focus on building more tollways to collect more toll dollars is not a bug, it’s a feature. Any expressway authority that collects tolls to expand tollways will expand tollways. Never mind the science of induced traffic which demonstrates adding lane capacity contributes to congestion. MDX is not charged with creating solutions to congestion—it builds roads. We need a Transportation Authority that can look holistically at all solutions to the problem of mobility and work to solve problems with more than one tool in the tool box.

Although the Florida Legislature in 2017 passed a law requiring MDX to use a fraction of “surplus revenues”—that is, what, if anything is left after MDX pays off all road projects—MDX has filed suit to have the law declared unconstitutional because it interferes with using toll revenues for roads. And it continues to plan more tollways to collect more tolls. Its road contractors and consultants, who are the beneficiaries of almost all its toll revenues, demand as much.

Drivers do not benefit from MDX’s consultant and contractor driven projects. How often have you thought, “They just expanded this highway and it’s even more congested.?” Added bonus: The time lost due to construction delays is never offset through improved travel time. It’s science: Adding lanes does not improve congestion over the long-term.

The mayor’s proposal and recent amendments by Sen. Annette Taddeo is a last-ditch effort to retool and rename and give some local control to a new MDX authority in light of Florida House Representative Bryan Avila proposed House Bill 385 which seeks to dissolve MDX and return control of MDX highways, and MDX toll revenues, to FDOT. The senate bill with recent amendments now provides that locally-collected toll revenues should be redeployed locally under a new authority.

While this is a step in the right direction, on complete abolishment of keeping toll revenue local, the real need in the creation of this new authority is ensuring a more holistic approach is employed to managing our intolerable congestion which includes supporting mass transit, and other forgotten modes such as bicycling and walking.

Laura Reynolds,

Friends of the Everglades,

Ex-member of the Miami-Dade’s Urban Expansion Area Task Force,

Miami

No to armed teachers

I became a law enforcement officer in 1990 after six years of serving as an Army Reservist. It seemed like a natural next step foward in continuing my public service. It only made sense that I would parlay my experience in the military into protecting our community.

Soldiers and officers are sworn to the common mission of protecting the public, both the country at large and our local communities. Such should be the charge of elected officials as well. Sadly, I quickly learned that those from the lowest to the highest levels of government frequently lose sight of the greater good. Instead, Tallahassee more resembles a bazaar where merchants of influence peddle their wares and haggle over price as they compete for the favor of legislators.

Nowhere is this dysfunction more apparent than in the realm of education policy.

Their latest folly is to expand the Guardian Program to include arming full-time teachers in addition to other school staff. Even legislators acknowledge that there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that arming teachers would add one iota of additional protection against an active school shooter. No matter. Our leaders seem poised to force this idea down the throats of opposing educators and the public alike.

Robert Asencio, former

state representative, Miami

Don’t undermine the will of the people

In November, 5.1 million Floridians voted to return the ability to vote to Florida residents who had been convicted of felonies but had finished their sentences, including probation and parole.

That was 64.55 percent of the electorate and included Democrats, Republicans and Independents. About 1.4 million people regained the ability to participate in our political process.

That was until the Florida Legislature inserted itself into the issue.

Although the ballot language of Amendment 4 contained no mention of a role for the Legislature in enacting the measure, legislative leadership decided differently. Bills have now been introduced that would require returning citizens to pay fines and court fees that no judge ever ordered them to pay before they can regain their ability to vote. The amendment covered all felonies, except murder and felony sexual offenses, but the measures before the legislature would also expand the definitions of such crimes in order to preclude even more people from voting.

As a retired U.S. Navy captain and Florida resident I am absolutely opposed to spurious measures meant only to deny citizens the ability to vote. I did not serve my country in order to see lawmakers violate our basic freedoms.

On top of that, among those whose ability to vote could be blocked are thousands of fellow Florida military veterans. That is one reason that 64.55 percent of voters supported Amendment 4 and why they should stand up now and say “No” to these latest legislative dirty tricks.

State lawmakers are trying to undermine Amendment 4. The proposed legislation extends far beyond what any reasonable person would conclude the voters intended when they passed Amendment 4 and would thwart the will of the people.

The measures are also overly broad and vague, raising serious constitutional concerns.

The pending legislation creates financial barriers to voting that were not considered a part of a person’s sentence as handed down by the judge.

It would condition the right to vote on whether a person can afford to pay fees, a key constitutional concern.

Certain Florida lawmakers insist they are clarifying the intent of the voters when they are really obfuscating and foiling that will. Floridians for a Fair Democracy, the coalition that worked to place the citizen-driven amendment on the ballot, passed through every step of a long process, including having the language approved by the Florida Supreme Court.

The voters who supported Amendment 4 clearly believed in giving second chances to those who have paid their debt to society.

Now, members of the Florida Legislature who opposed Amendment 4 are giving themselves a second chance to undermine it. People, like me, who supported it should let them know we won’t stand for it.

Anne Rawley, retired Navy captain, St. Petersburg

Abortion restrictions

Once again, the Florida Legislature is considering a bevy of abortion restrictions. They include a ban at the first sign of a fetal heartbeat, a ban at twenty weeks, and a law requiring minors to secure the consent of their parents or a court before they can end an unwanted pregnancy.

To ever be implemented, these abortion laws would have to be constitutional under both the federal and state constitutions. Although they may soon comply with the U.S. Constitution, they clash with Florida’s.

Currently, it is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution to ban abortion before viability, and even after viability it must be allowed if a woman’s health or life are at risk. The Florida Legislature may believe that the new conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court will cut back if not eliminate abortion protections guaranteed by the federal constitution. (Anthony Kennedy, who had joined a 5-4 majority to reaffirm women’s right to choose, has been replaced by Brett Kavanaugh.) The Florida lawmakers are not alone. States around the country have been anticipating a sea change in abortion law and have passed their own restrictive acts.

However, Florida is different than most states. The Florida Constitution has an explicit right to privacy. Article I, section 23 provides that, “Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from government intrusion into the person’s private life except as provided herein.”

The Florida Supreme Court has always interpreted this right to privacy to encompass a woman’s right to abortion. Indeed, it is hard to imagine what would be more intrusive into a person’s private life than the government forcing her to remain pregnant.

Because of the right to privacy, any law that infringes on women’s abortion rights is presumptively unconstitutional unless the state of Florida can prove that its abortion law is narrowly tailored to accomplish a compelling state interest. Applying this rigorous scrutiny, the Florida Supreme Court has struck down laws requiring women to wait 24 hours after visiting a doctor before having the procedure, laws requiring minors to notify a parent before an abortion, as well as laws requiring minors to obtain consent from a parent before an abortion — much like one of the current proposals.

If it is unconstitutional to impose a waiting period on Florida women before they may terminate their pregnancy, it is obviously unconstitutional to ban abortion entirely. It is true that the citizens of Florida amended the Florida Constitution in 2004 to permit a law mandating parental notification by minors, and the Legislature promptly passed the Parental Notice of Abortion Act. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court decision striking down the parental consent law still stands.

Consequently, under clear existing Florida law, all the proposed abortion limits violate the Florida Constitution. To be sure, Florida Supreme Court has changed as well. With the recent appointment of three new conservative justices, Florida’s high court has also taken a sharp turn to the right.

However, to overrule its own cases that firmly establish women’s right to abortion, the Florida Supreme Court would have to provide a reason for the change, such as a significant change in facts. Given that the Florida Supreme Court unequivocally reaffirmed the right as recently as 2017, it will be a challenge to explain what has changed in the past year or so, other than who is sitting on the court. In any event, the Florida Supreme Court would be hard pressed to explain why the “right to be let alone and free from government intrusion into the person’s private life” does not include the right to be free from the government dictating what happens to one’s pregnancy and body.

To avoid endless litigation at taxpayer expense over laws that lower courts must strike down and a principled Supreme Court will also strike down, the Florida Legislature should focus its time and energy on laws that do not violate rights enshrined in the Florida Constitution.

Caroline Mala Corbin,

professor of law,

University of Miami School of Law

John Feeley, board member, IMPAC, Miami

hed hed We need to spend more money in public education. No one will disagree with that. “How much?” matters, but that should not be the only question we ask about the state’s distribution of more than $20 billion in education funding each year. We should also be asking “How fair?” How fairly are we distributing the dollars -- and are we doing so with equity and transparency. Along with tremendous gains in student outcomes, Florida’s spending on public education has increased in the years following the recession. But a flaw in Florida’s public education funding formula has left dozens of counties – Miami-Dade included – without their fair share of those additional dollars. These dollars often leave local school districts unable to invest fully in teachers and classrooms. Florida’s education funding is complicated. Dozens of factors are considered when determining how much each school district receives to educate a student. The factor that most dramatically affects equity and transparency is the “District Cost Differential.” The DCD is a variable in Florida’s education funding formula that purports to adjust school district allocations depending on criteria that may dictate the cost of hiring teachers. The DCD was amended in 2006 to use a “price-level index” to determine how school districts would be weighted. This formula used factors such as “proximity to the beach” as variables in determining what wage a teacher would be willing to accept. You can instantly see why such criteria is so questionable. Miami-Dade County Public Schools believes that hundreds of millions of dollars have been directed away from its classrooms and teachers as a result of the flawed formula. Last session, the Legislature commissioned a study to look into the accuracy and transparency of the DCD. Recently, the Balmoral Group released its study. The findings were clear: The current funding formula is flawed. A more accurate formula exists. Changes should be made. HB 1031/SB 1284 would replace the price-level index currently used for the DCD with a far-more-accurate index that takes into consideration comparable wages. The new formula would accurately define the true cost of living in Miami and the comparable wage teachers deserve. Our legislation is supported by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the Board of County Commissioners, the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, the United Way of Miami-Dade and it is a priority for our legislative delegation. Education has no shortage of policy issues that can bring individuals from either side of the aisle to ideological blows. However, equitable and accurate funding for public education is something all of us can get behind.

State Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr. and State Rep. Vance Aloupis, Miami

hed hed

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s proposal to put an expanded expressway authority in the hands of county elected officials, with authority over MDX’s tollways plus Florida’s Turnpike in Miami-Dade County does not solve what ails MDX. It’s just MDX but with more toll roads controlled by politicians. MDX, as per Florida’s Expressway Authority Act, exists to collect tolls and expand tollways in a never-ending cycle of congestion. MDX is not charged with creating solutions to congestion — it builds roads. We need a transportation authority that can look holistically at all solutions to the problem of mobility and work to solve problems with more than one tool in the tool box. Although the Florida Legislature in 2017 passed a law requiring MDX to use a fraction of “surplus revenues,” MDX has filed suit to have the law declared unconstitutional because it interferes with using toll revenues for roads. And it continues to plan more tollways to collect more tolls. Its road contractors and consultants, who are the beneficiaries of almost all its toll revenues, demand as much. The mayor’s proposal and recent amendments by state Sen. Annette Taddeo are last-ditch efforts to retool and rename MDX and give some local control to a new authority — in light of Rep. Bryan Avila’s House Bill 385, which seeks to dissolve MDX and return control of its highways and toll revenues, to FDOT. And the Senate bill, with recent amendments, now says that locally collected tolls should be redeployed locally under a new authority. While this is a step in the right direction, the real need in the creation of this new authority is ensuring a more holistic approach to managing our intolerable congestion that includes mass transi, and other forgotten transportation modes such as bicycling and walking.

Laura Reynolds, consultant, Friends of the Everglades and the Hold the Line Campaign, Miami

hed hed

Soldiers and police officers are sworn to protecting the public, both the country at large and our local communities. Such should be the charge of elected officials as well. Sadly, I quickly learned that those from the lowest to the highest levels of government frequently lose sight of the greater good. Instead, Tallahassee more resembles a bazaar where merchants of influence peddle their wares and haggle over price as they compete for the favor of legislators. Nowhere is this dysfunction more apparent than in the realm of education policy. Not only do legislators, most with little to no experience in the classroom, impose burdensome and unfunded mandates on school districts, often in defiance of local control, but some have pushed, ruthlessly and relentlessly, to discredit and dismantle public education as we know it, all to the benefit of private parties and on the back of taxpayers’ dollars. This has been a meticulously orchestrated plan that has been skillfully executed over the last 20 years. The result? Dozens of ineffective, inefficient and illogical policies. Their latest folly is to expand the Guardian Program to include arming full-time teachers in addition to other school staff. Even legislators acknowledge that there’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that upping the ante and arming teachers would add one iota of additional protection against an active school shooter. No matter. Our leaders seem poised to force this idea down the throats of opposing educators and the public alike. They have ignored the fact that all major teacher, principal, school employee, parent, and school security organizations and most Americans strongly oppose this measure. It doesn’t matter that the cost of arming and training educators would eclipse that of the funds it would take to properly staff our schools with mental health counselors and pay teachers accordingly. It’s irrelevant that teachers are not sharp shooters or even first responders and even those of us who are effectively trained to use firearms, are often left with significant post-traumatic stress disorder after being involved in a shooting. And of course, never mind the fact that most law enforcement agencies believe this is a terrible idea. Which begs the question, what exactly is the goal and who are our legislators serving? Clearly it’s not you or me or much less our children. And while it’s easy to become incensed at the blatant disregard for the will of the people, we only have ourselves to blame. We have insanity in Tallahassee because we keep doing the same thing over and over again, which is voting these ineffective leaders back into office. If we want better, we have to do better. We cannot continue to sit idly by while our representatives in government push policies that are designed to dismantle our public schools and further endanger our communities. We have to demand more and we have to hold them accountable. But most importantly, we all have to be the change we want to see in the world. by former State Representative Robert Asencio

hed hed

MILITARY VETERAN: I DIDN’T SERVE TO SEE LAWMAKERS UNDERMINE THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE Capt. Anne Rawley, U.S. Navy retired In November 5.1 million Floridians voted to return the ability to vote to Florida citizens who had been convicted of felonies but had finished their sentences including probation and parole. That was 64.55 percent of the electorate and included Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Some 1.4 million people regained their ability to participate in our political process. That was until the Florida Legislature inserted itself into the issue. Although the ballot language of Amendment 4 contained no mention of a role for the legislature in enacting the measure, legislative leadership decided differently. Bills have now been introduced that would require returning citizens to pay fines and court fees that no judge ever ordered them to pay before they can regain their ability to vote. The amendment covered all felonies, except murder and felony sexual offenses, but the measures before the legislature would also expand the definitions of such crimes in order to preclude even more people from voting. As a retired U.S. Navy captain and Florida resident I am absolutely opposed to spurious measures meant only to deny our citizens the ability to vote. I did not serve my country in order to see basic freedoms violated by our lawmakers. On top of that, among those whose ability to vote could be blocked are thousands of my fellow Florida military veterans. That is one reason that 64.55 percent of voters supported Amendment 4 and why they should stand up now and say “no” to these latest legislative dirty tricks. State lawmakers are trying to undermine Amendment 4. The proposed legislation extends far beyond what any reasonable person would conclude the voters intended when they passed Amendment 4 and would thwart the will of the people. The measures are also overly broad and vague, raising serious constitutional concerns. The pending legislation creates financial barriers to voting that were not considered a part of a person’s sentence as handed down by the judge. It would condition the right to vote on whether a person can afford to pay fees, a key constitutional concern. Certain Florida lawmakers insist they are clarifying the intent of the voters when they are really obfuscating and foiling that will. Floridians for a Fair Democracy, the coalition that worked to place the citizen-driven amendment on the ballot, passed through every step of a long process, including having the language approved by the Florida Supreme Court. By accepting the language of the amendment, the court effectively ruled that the intent of the measure was clear -- to restore voting rights to citizens who completed the terms of their sentences including parole and probation. To suggest the language of the amendment is confusing or ambiguous is an affront to our judicial process. The intent of voters was clear: to have more Floridians participating in their communities. Returning citizens pay taxes and Amendment 4 gives them the ability to vote in important local elections that determine how resources are distributed for transportation, parks and recreation, affordable housing, job training programs, etc. They are also parents and the amendment allows them to help elect school board members and have a real stake in their children’s education. One wonders how long Florida voters will continue to elect legislators who defy the will of the people. In 2016, 71 percent of Florida voters approved the use of medical marijuana, but roadblocks thrown up by legislators delayed implementation of that amendment while thousands of needy Floridians suffered. Newly-elected governor Ron DeSantis last month signed a bill that finally lifts a ban on smokable medical marijuana, but even now efforts are being made to limit the strength and effectiveness of that marijuana. And then there’s the Florida Forever Act of 2014, when 75 percent of voters approved dedicating a certain percentage of net revenues to acquire and improve environmentally endangered lands, wetlands, forests, wildlife habitats, springs, etc. Legislators have found every pretext to not follow the will of the voters. The voters who supported Amendment 4 clearly believed in giving second chances to those who have paid their debt to society. Now, members of the Florida Legislature who opposed Amendment 4 are giving themselves a second chance to undermine it. People, like me, who supported it should let them know we won’t stand for it. Retired Navy Captain Anne Rawley of St. Petersburg served as a nurse in combat zones, both in Vietnam and the Middle East.

hed hed

Caroline Mala Corbin, Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law Once again, the Florida Legislature is considering a bevy of abortion restrictions. They include a ban at the first sign of a fetal heartbeat, a ban at twenty weeks, and a law requiring minors to secure the consent of their parents or a court before they can end an unwanted pregnancy. To ever be implemented, these abortion laws would have to constitutional under both the federal and state constitutions. Although they may soon comply with the U.S. Constitution, they clash with Florida’s. At present, it is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution to ban abortion before viability, and even after viability it must be allowed if a woman’s health or life are at risk. The Florida Legislature may believe that the new conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court will cut back if not eliminate abortion protections guaranteed by the federal constitution. (Justice Kennedy, who had joined a 5-4 majority to reaffirm women’s right to choose, has been replaced by Justice Kavanaugh.) The Florida lawmakers are not alone. States around the country have been anticipating a sea change in abortion law and have passed their own restrictive acts. However, Florida is different than most states. The Florida Constitution has an explicit right to privacy. Article I, section 23 provides that “Every natural person has the right to be let alone and free from government intrusion into the person’s private life except as provided herein.” The Florida Supreme Court has always interpreted this right to privacy to encompass a woman’s right to abortion. Indeed, it is hard to imagine what would be more intrusive into a person’s private life than the government forcing her to remain pregnant. Because of the right to privacy, any law that infringes on women’s abortion rights is presumptively unconstitutional unless the state of Florida can prove that its abortion law is narrowly tailored to accomplish a compelling state interest. Applying this rigorous scrutiny, the Florida Supreme Court has struck down laws requiring women to wait twenty-four hours after visiting a doctor before having the procedure, laws requiring minors to notify a parent before an abortion, as well as laws requiring minors to obtain consent from a parent before an abortion – much like one of the current proposals. If it is unconstitutional to impose a waiting period on Florida women before they may terminate their pregnancy, it is obviously unconstitutional to ban abortion entirely. It is true that the citizens of Florida amended the Florida Constitution in 2004 to permit a law mandating parental notification by minors, and the Legislature promptly passed the Parental Notice of Abortion Act. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court decision striking down the parental consent law still stands. Consequently, under very clear existing Florida law, all the proposed abortion limits violate the Florida Constitution. To be sure, Florida Supreme Court has changed as well. With the recent appointment of three new conservative justices, Florida’s high court has also taken a sharp turn to the right. However, to overrule its own cases that firmly establish Florida women’s right to abortion, the Florida Supreme Court would have to provide a reason for the change, such as a significant change in facts. Given that the Florida Supreme Court unequivocally reaffirmed the right as recently as 2017, it will be a challenge to explain what has changed in the past year or so, other than who is sitting on the Court. In any event, the Florida Supreme Court would be hard pressed to explain why the “right to be let alone and free from government intrusion into the person’s private life” does not include the right to be free from the government dictating what happens to one’s pregnancy and body. To avoid endless litigation at taxpayer expense over laws that lower courts must strike down and a principled Supreme Court will also strike down, the Florida legislature should focus its time and energy on laws that do not violate rights enshrined in the Florida Constitution.

hed hed

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