States

Fla. Ballot Item Set Back in Court, but AG Can Revive It

By Sean Cavanagh — December 19, 2011 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Florida lawmakers’ efforts to change the state’s constitution in a way that could bolster private school vouchers hit a roadblock recently. But it appears there’s a way around it.

To catch up on an item from last week, Florida Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis ruled that language of a proposed constitutional amendment, known as Amendment 7, was misleading and could not go on the ballot in November as written.

But the decision, which came last week, is not a dead end for the proposal. The judge gave Florida’s attorney general, Republican Pam Bondi, 10 days to correct the language. A spokeswoman for Bondi said the AG intends to do so.

“It is important that voters have an opportunity to remove from our constitution a provision that discriminates against religious organizations,” Bondi’s office said in an e-mail. “The problems identified by the trial court are easily fixable.”

Amendment 7 would delete language in the state constitution that blocks public money from being used “directly or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination or in aid of any sectarian institution.” It would also add language saying that the government cannot deny individuals or entities “the benefits of any program, funding or other support on the basis of religious identity or belief.”

Many states have language in their constitutions like Florida’s, which in some way bar or restrict public money from going to religious schools or institutions. Those provisions are known as Blaine amendments. Earlier this year, Florida’s GOP-led legislature approved having the amendment to change the state’s constitution placed on the ballot. A number of individuals representing public schools and religious organizations sued to block the proposed change, claiming its language would mislead voters.

They also said the measure would pave the way for a sweeping expansion of school vouchers in the state. Florida has hosted legal fights over private school choice in the past.

Lewis found the the ballot summary language was “ambiguous” and did not speak to the effect of the amendment, rendering the wording “defective.”

The next move in this particular fight is in the hands of the state’s attorney general.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Ensuring Continuity of Learning: How to Prepare for the Next Disruption
Across the country, K-12 schools and districts are, again, considering how to ensure effective continuity of learning in the face of emerging COVID variants, politicized debates, and more. Learn from Alexandria City Public Schools superintendent
Content provided by Class
Teaching Profession Live Online Discussion What Have We Learned From Teachers During the Pandemic?
University of California, Santa Cruz, researcher Lora Bartlett and her colleagues spent months studying how the pandemic affected classroom teachers. We will discuss the takeaways from her research not only for teachers, but also for

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

States During Site Visit From Cardona, Illinois Governor Defends Vaccine, Testing Policies
“The testing regimen is there in order to make sure that they’re not entering the institution where they work and spreading COVID-19.”
Karen Ann Cullotta, Chicago Tribune
3 min read
The Student Council lead the creation of “sensory hallways” at Western Branch Middle School in Chesapeake, Va.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona looks on as Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks with reporters after touring Access Hawthorne Family Health Center, which is offering COVID-19 vaccines at 3040 S. Cicero Ave. in Cicero, as part of the Department of Education's "Return to School Road Trip" events in the Chicago area, Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 21, 2021.
Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP
States Kentucky Ends All Statewide Mask Mandates After Governor's Vetoes Overridden
The Republican-led legislation strips the Democratic governor's ability to issue statewide mask mandates in schools or anywhere else.
Jack Brammer and Alex Acquisto, Lexington Herald-Leader
4 min read
In this Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020, file photo, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear addresses the media in Frankfort, Ky. Kentucky's governor said Sunday, Oct. 11, that he will quarantine after a member of his security detail who drove with his family the day before later tested positive for COVID-19. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear said he and his family feel fine, show no coronavirus symptoms and have tested negative for the virus.
In this Sept. 23, 2020, file photo, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear addresses the media in Frankfort, Ky.
Timothy D. Easley/AP
States Bill to Restrict How Race and Racism Is Taught in Schools Headed to Texas Governor
If the "critical race theory" bill sounds familiar, that's because lawmakers passed a similar one during the regular legislative session.
Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram
4 min read
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks at a news conference in Austin, Texas, on June 8, 2021.
Eric Gay/AP
States Infographic Which States Are Reporting COVID-19 Cases in Schools?
Some states are reporting the number of COVID-19 cases in their schools and districts. Use this table to find your state's data.
Image shows the coronavirus along with data charts and numbers.
iStock/Getty Images Plus