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Plaintiffs, defendants request greyhound racing ban case ‘pass through’ to Supreme Court

Citing the imminence of Election Day, attorneys for the state and the Florida Greyhound Association agreed to ask the Supreme Court to directly take an appeal on whether a proposed amendment to end greyhound racing should stay on the November ballot.

The request, submitted Friday, asks the 1st District Court of Appeal (DCA) to grant “pass-through certification.” If approved, the matter would skip that court and head to the Supreme Court, pending that court’s acceptance of the case. The parties also seek “expedited consideration” from the court.

The request follows Tallahassee Circuit Court Judge Karen Gieversruling earlier this week that the proposed ballot title and summary were “clearly and conclusively defective,” and therefore the amendment should not go on the ballot. Edward M. Wenger, the state’s chief deputy solicitor general, appealed the decision on Thursday.

The state’s appeal puts an “automatic stay” on the case to preserve the status quo. That means until a higher court says otherwise, the amendment still is slated for the 2018 general election ballot.

Both parties are aware of the unique time constraints: The legality of the proposed dog-racing ban, known as Amendment 13, would need to be decided well ahead of the Nov. 6 election, partly because of ballot printing.

Florida case law permits certain exceptions for pass-through certification, the parties note in the request, one of them being a ballot question challenge for which the ballots have not yet been printed. The parties also note that mail-in ballots must, by law, be sent to voters by Sept. 22.

“There are only a few companies certified to print these paper ballots in the United States, and every other state in the country is holding elections” on Nov. 6, the filing says. “As a result, counties in Florida submit their ballot orders as early as possible to ensure they meet the mailing deadline.”

It adds: “The parties acknowledge that this Court is perfectly capable of reaching a well-reasoned decision in this appeal,” referring to the 1st DCA.

“However, because all the parties are committed to seeking further review of any adverse ruling, their legal arguments are fully developed, and only the Supreme Court can offer a final answer to the important and time-sensitive question that this case presents, the parties respectfully suggest certification.” 

The state Supreme Court is next scheduled to hear oral arguments during the last week of August.

“Assuming [the 1st DCA] expeditiously grants the parties’ joint suggestion for pass-through certification and the Florida Supreme Court accepts review, then expedited briefing and oral argument could occur in that Court before the early September practical deadline for printing the general election ballots,” the request says. 

The measure had been slated for the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission. Amendments need no less than 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.

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Background for this post from Senior Editor Jim Rosica. Featured photo courtesy of Van Abernethy.

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Danny McAuliffe is a journalist for floridapolitics.com

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