Judge removes Florida’s Amendment 7 from November ballot

In Florida, Judge James Shelfer removed redistricting-related Amendment 7 from the November ballot. Judge Shelfer ruled that the Republican-controlled state legislature’s proposed Amendment 7’s “failure to inform the public [was] clearly and convincingly an attempt to hide the ball” about the measure’s true aims. The legislature put Amendment 7 on the ballot in response to redistricting reform measures from FairDistricts Florida. The Rose Institute discussed the competing proposals in earlier posts here and here.

The suit against Amendment 7 focused on the amendment’s clarity. The attorney representing the Florida House of Representatives argued that Amendment 7 merely created “additional standards that [went] with the standards that presently exist.” Opponents of Amendment 7 believe the amendment would allow the state legislature to bypass the provisions of FairDistricts’s proposed Amendment 5 and Amendment 6. Ron Meyer, the attorney for the Florida state NAACP, argued that the “amendment is nothing if not deceptive, if not unintelligible…[the state legislature] could have…made [it] a very simple, straightforward amendment….and they chose not to do that for the very purpose of being able to hide the impacts.”

In his ruling, Judge Shelfer cited his own inability to comprehend the language of Amendment 7. Said Shelfer, “I’m not the brightest light on the Christmas tree, but it took me three days…to get a handle on what this amendment does.”

An appeal of Judge Shelfer’s verdict is set to go before the Florida Supreme Court. Meanwhile, separate law suits against FairDistricts Florida will have court hearings this week in Tallahassee.

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