What happened at the Florida Supreme Court?

By Lynda Bell, President, Florida Right to Life

On February 7th,, promptly at 9 am, Florida’s highest Court began hearing the state’s challenge to the deceptive ballot language from the organization entitled “Floridians Protecting Freedom.”

“Under Florida law, the state Supreme Court gets to review the proposed language by any citizen-initiated constitutional amendment proposal before it can formally advance to the ballot,” according to Adam Edelman of NBC News. If the question is allowed on the ballot, 60% of voters would have to approve it.

While there was a lot going on outside, what was most important what was about to take place inside the courtroom. The task before the Florida Supreme Court is “ruling whether the ballot language is misleading and whether it deals with multiple subjects instead of only one,” Romy Ellenbogen reported.

Literally, as soon as the Florida Attorney General’s office began defending the state’s position that the amendment is deceptive, vague and should be struck, the justices jumped in with a barrage of questions.

The state took great issue with the term “viability” and the fact that the term is not defined and vague. We would agree.

The newest justice in the court, Justice Meredith Sasso,  asked Courtney Brewer, the attorney for the pro-abortion side, why they didn’t just define viability in terms of weeks. Her response was that everyone knows what viability means.

I would contend that is patently false and as deceptive as the amendment language itself. Attorney General Ashley Moody said the language is designed to “hoodwink” the voters. Again, we agree.

Matt Staver from Liberty Council gave an articulate argument on the dangers and pitfalls of this pro-abortion effort. He stated the amendment should be doomed by these words: “No law shall prohibit, penalize, delay, or restrict an abortion.”

This interferes with the job of government, Staver argued. “It’s a total abolition of all the functions of those three branches of government with regards to the issue of abortion.”  He also pointed out that this language violates the single subject rule in the Florida Constitution.

This language, if allowed to stand, would nullify every single piece of pro-life legislation in the state. It would also interfere with the courts’ ability to do anything with regards to abortion.

Staver was peppered with tough questions but defended his (and our) position well. This language has zero transparency. We at Florida Right to Life believe this is quite purposeful.

Also at issue were the terms “health” and “medical provider.” Health was not defined and as the case was with Roe, the term is purposefully vague and deceptive. Health can mean just about anything as determined by the patient’s health care provider, which was also not defined. 

One justice noted that the health care provider could be a tattoo artist.

While I was disturbed by some of the questions, I was equally encouraged by others.  I was very impressed with justices Renatha Frances, Jamie Grosshans. and John Couriel.

I remain cautiously optimistic as we await the decision by the deadline of April, 1st.