Will lawmakers abide if Florida votes for abortion and marijuana?

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But getting 60% of Florida voters to approve the amendment in November will likely still not be the last challenge.
Florida’s lawmakers have a history of watering down amendments they don’t support.
Ron DeSantis and top Florida lawmakers in opposition to the abortion measure, it’s not out of the question that the Legislature might try.
And it’s not the only amendment Florida lawmakers disapprove of; Florida voters in November will also decide if they want recreational marijuana legalized, which DeSantis and others have opposed.
In 2017, after 71% of Florida voters approved medical marijuana use, then-Gov.
Florida lawmakers are expected to reconvene in March next year, giving them time to pass laws if voters approve this year’s amendment for recreational marijuana.
The court’s role over abortion and “personhood” The future of Florida’s abortion laws could also end up back in the courts.
Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz raised the idea of fetuses’ rights under the Florida Constitution during oral arguments over the abortion amendment.


TALLAHASSEE — Proponents of a Florida amendment that would safeguard access to abortion have already cleared a number of obstacles, including gathering almost a million signatures and receiving approval from the state’s conservative Supreme Court.

However, winning the amendment’s approval in November with 60% of Florida voters won’t be the last obstacle.

Legislators in Florida have a track record of weakening amendments that they oppose. Alongside Gov. Ron DeSantis and other prominent Florida lawmakers are against the abortion bill, so it’s possible that the legislature will attempt to pass it.

Not only does the amendment not sit well with Florida lawmakers, but voters in the state will also decide in November whether or not to legalize marijuana for recreational use, a decision that DeSantis and other lawmakers have opposed.

State constitutional law expert Jonathan Marshfield of the University of Florida law school said, “(Lawmakers) actually have this really sophisticated set of countermeasures for how to respond to initiatives that they don’t like.”.

Opponents of the amendments from outside advocacy groups may also file court challenges aimed at the implementation of the amendments, which could reopen the cases before the state Supreme Court.

groups opposed to abortion, such as Susan B. Concerning whether they are planning legal challenges, Anthony Pro-Life America and Florida Voters Against Extremism have brushed off inquiries, stating that they believe the abortion amendment will be defeated by voters.

According to Lauren Brenzel, campaign director for the group pushing the amendment, proponents are prepared to “ensure that legislators do the right thing in respecting the will of Florida voters when implementing this initiative.”.

The group advocating for the marijuana amendment has further declared that, should it pass, it will endeavor to see to it that legislators propose lawfully enacted guidelines regarding the where and how of marijuana use.

What has previously occurred?

Legislators may enact laws to implement an amendment in ways that voters or the organizations that pushed for its inclusion on the ballot didn’t anticipate, even if the amendment is approved. Legislators have been known to do precisely that.

When voters debated a 2002 amendment to reduce the size of school classes, then-Gov. Jeb Bush was heard on tape claiming he had “devious plans” to reverse it should it pass, including a voter education campaign outlining the tax hikes and program cuts necessary to pay for it.

(The Legislature has created loopholes that permit schools to have more students per classroom and exempted hundreds of courses from the class-size caps in the more than two decades since the passage of that amendment. ).

In 2017, following a 71 percent approval rate for medical marijuana use among Floridian voters, then-Gov. An anti-smokable marijuana law was signed by Rick Scott. Advocates filed a legal challenge, claiming that lawmakers disregarded the wishes of Florida voters. The ban was lifted after a circuit judge declared it to be unconstitutional.

The courts are also considering whether the 2018-passed Amendment 4 failed to “realize the promise” by the lawmakers. Legislators mandated after the election that those with felony records pay all court fines and fees before they could cast a ballot, but the state never established a centralized method for individuals to determine their outstanding balances.

The budget can be amended by lawmakers as well. In 2000, voters approved a high-speed rail-supporting amendment. Scott withdrew the $24.4 billion in federal funding for the project a few years later.

Legislators frequently look for ambiguities in an amendment’s wording, then pass legislation that implements the amendment but adds definitions and additional context that may make it more difficult to understand, according to Marshfield.

In the event that voters approve this year’s amendment allowing for the recreational use of marijuana, Florida lawmakers are anticipated to meet again in March of the following year, providing them with ample time to enact legislation. Six months after voters approve the amendment, it would become operative. If the abortion amendment is approved, it will go into effect in January, ahead of the next scheduled regular session of lawmakers. However, DeSantis retains the right to call a special session. ).

Legislators might try establishing smoke-free zones or attempting to implement THC caps for recreational marijuana, an attempt at which they made this past session but were unsuccessful in completing.

Speaking on behalf of the amendment’s sponsors, Smart and Safe Florida, Steve Vancore stated that the organization is in favor of initiatives that restrict marijuana use in public places.

“The legislature will have that power, as the amendment and the constitution make clear,” he declared.

The judiciary’s jurisdiction over abortion and “personhood.”.

Additionally, the fate of Florida’s abortion restrictions may wind up back in court.

The Florida Supreme Court raised the issue of fetuses’ legal rights, laying out a potential avenue for challenges even as the court voted 4–3 to place the amendment on the ballot. Whether fetuses should have the same rights and constitutional protections as anyone else is the main question this concept addresses.

Justice Jamie Grosshans noted in a dissent that the amendment does not resolve the abortion debate and opposed placing it on the ballot.

She declared, “This amendment, on the other hand, gives the courts back control over abortion matters, allowing them to define terms, policies, and boundaries.”.

During oral arguments regarding the abortion amendment, Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz brought up the topic of fetuses’ rights under the Florida Constitution.

Following the ruling permitting the amendment to be placed on the ballot, Muñiz revisited the idea in a concurring opinion. The concurring opinion, which Justices Charles Canady and John Couriel signed, stated that the amendment would prevent people from utilizing the law to “protect an entire class of human beings from private harm.”. “.

The constitutional right to life would probably be impacted by the amendment, according to Grosshans’ dissenting opinion.

In agreement was Justice Meredith Sasso. In her dissent, Justice Renatha Francis asserted that abortion violates “the right of another person”. “.

The president of Liberty Counsel Action, John Stemberger, expressed his opinion that even in the event that conservative organizations file lawsuits, the court’s options may be limited if the amendment is incorporated into the Florida Constitution.

Even though the justices appear interested in delving into fetuses’ rights, Stemberger’s group is trying to prevent the amendment from being approved by voters, arguing that if it passes, it will be hard to argue against it after the fact.

Stemberger remarked, “I think it would be a very, very difficult argument to make after it’s passed already.”.

Stemberger was echoed by Michelle Morton, policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, who said that if the amendment is ratified into Florida’s Constitution, the case for increased rights for fetuses will be more difficult to make because the newer provision will supersede older sections of the constitution, even if they are interpreted differently.

“This fight has been between us,” she stated. “We will not give up on this battle. We am prepared. “.

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