Proposal Would Give Florida Lawmakers Say Over FL Supreme Court Rulings

Dec 28, 2016
Originally published on December 28, 2016 3:01 pm

A new proposal would allow the state to keep laws the state Supreme Court rules are unconstitutional.

State Rep. Julio Gonzalez, R-Venice, filed the legislation Tuesday. The bill would let the legislature save a law that the courts overturned if the legislature votes overwhelmingly, with a two-thirds majority, to keep the law active within a five-year period.

Gonzalez said he got the idea from studying Canada's Constitution and he would like to see the U.S. Congress also pass a similar law. He said there's not a check on the power of the judiciary and the legislature should be that check. In an article he wrote on a Christian conservative website, Gonzalez argues that courts are preventing prayer in schools and protecting Americans' right to burn the flag as political speech. Both issues, he said is an example of the overreach of judges.

"The original intent was not for the judiciary to be the ultimate check," he said. "The Supreme Courts are just as much a political body as any other body in the country. It acknowledges sometimes the Supreme Court can get it wrong."

However, judges in Florida do get voted on in elections, which is the typical way the U.S. voters act as checks. The state's circuit and county judges run for election and six-year-terms. Appeal judges and Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor, but go through merit retention races within the first two years of taking office and six years after that.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran has made judicial reform one of his top priorities for the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions. While Gonzalez said the proposal is non-partisan, the Florida Supreme Court has irritated the Republican-controlled several times over the past few years. In 2010, the justices kicked three constitutional amendments off the ballot that were supported by the legislature, including an anti-ObamaCare proposal.

Former Governor Charlie Crist, appointed four members of the Florida Supreme Court. Voters decided to retain Justice Charles Canady, Justice Ricky Polston and Justice Jorge Labarga last month.

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