Practicing in Florida’s Foreclosure Courts, I’ve seen the worst of the worst in terms of how citizens are treated by a court system that is supposed to be fair, independent and balanced.
But that is clearly not the case today in Florida courts. Courts, now more than ever are turning into the worst kind of political institutions…..political institutions that are scared.
Any observer will see proof of this everywhere we turn….and while that is certainly bad at the local level, it’s downright terrifying when we see this occurring at the highest court in the land.
The following two examples from Florida’s Supreme Court are just the tip of the iceberg….
Two poor opinions by state’s top court
The Florida Supreme Court failed twice last week to act in the best interests of Floridians.
Coincidentally, both decisions involved constitutional amendments: one that put a deceptive amendment on the ballot, and the other that failed to hold the Florida Legislature accountable for ignoring a ballot measure that passed. Both weredecided on 4-3 splits.
Let’s start with the court’s decision to deny plaintiffs who prevailed in challenges to congressional and Florida Senate redistricting the ability to recoup legal fees from the state.
In 2010, Florida voters overwhelmingly supported two Fair Districts constitutional amendments with 63 percent of the vote. Voters wanted the Legislature to stop gerrymandering legislative and congressional districts to unfairly benefit one political party or incumbents. Little changed in the following redistricting process.
The only way to hold those drawing the maps accountable was through the courts – a difficult, costly and time-consuming endeavor.
A coalition of voters’ rights groups led by the League of Women Voters became the plaintiff in court challenges to both the congressional and Florida Senate redistricting maps. There followed four years that included discovery, depositions, trials, appeals, failed special sessions and ultimately Supreme Court rulings.
The circuit court threw out the Legislature’s congressional map after finding that Republican lawmakers had colluded with political operatives to produce districts that favored their party. The Florida Supreme Court also sided with voters’ rights groups in a strong 5-2 decision rebuking the Legislature and approving the new congressional maps.