High court hears argument on dog racing ban
A line forms outside the Florida Supreme Court for the investiture of the Honorable Alan Lawson as the 86th Justice of The Supreme Court of Florida in Tallahassee, Florida

Alan Lawson becomes the 86th Florida Supreme Court Justice

The Florida Supreme Court will now consider whether general election voters will get to see a constitutional amendment ending live greyhound racing.

Lawyers for the state and the Florida Greyhound Association gave argument Wednesday before the state’s seven justices. As usual, the court offered no clue when it might rule.

The association challenged the amendment, saying its ballot title and summary would mislead voters. Circuit Judge Karen Gievers already has agreed in a harshly-worded ruling, striking the measure earlier this month and calling it “outright ‘trickeration.’ ”

She said Amendment 13’s title and summary were “clearly and conclusively defective,” a legal standard developed by the Supreme Court to justify keeping proposed amendments off the ballot.

Deputy Solicitor General Jordan Pratt, who works for Attorney General Pam Bondi, defended the amendment. He told the court all the title and summary have to do is “make clear the chief legal effect of the amendment,” which they do. 

When Justice Peggy Quince suggested some voters may be interested in getting rid of dog racing but not in saying animal welfare is a “fundamental value,” Pratt said a title and summary don’t have to allude to the policy behind an amendment.

Major B. Harding, a retired Supreme Court justice who represents the Greyhound Association, had previously argued the title and summary don’t disclose that “humane treatment of animals would become a fundamental value of the people of Florida.”

But the court’s previous rulings suggest voters should be prompted not on the ‘why,’ but rather on the ‘what’ of an amendment, Pratt said. 


Harding later told the justices a vote for Amendment 13 would “constitutionally disconnect” dog racing from other gaming; slot machines in South Florida are provided for in another amendment. 

He said the language also doesn’t make clear to voters that the amendment’s passage would create “freestanding casinos” because other gambling activities would not be affected.

“Why would you include such a significant statement … and not disclose it?” Harding said. “It’s misleading and it’s inappropriate.”

Pratt, in rebuttal, suggested that dog tracks now offering card games or slots already are casinos, and taking away dog racing means just one less ‘game’ to bet on. 

The racing ban is one of eight amendments OK’d by the Constitution Revision Commission; 13 amendments in all have been set for the ballot. Amendment 13 was the first to be struck down, followed by two more this month. All amendments must get at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Matt Schumitz

    August 29, 2018 at 5:14 pm

    Do the right thing and keep this bogus amendment off of the ballot!

  • Luke Brown

    August 29, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    Do the right thing and end the barbaric activity.

    • Craig Laginess

      August 29, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      Luke, if this gets on the ballot and if it passes, horse racing and dog shows are next to be banned.

      • Andy

        August 29, 2018 at 8:23 pm

        60 percent is a tough sell, the fraud behind it and the ones pushing it is undenaible. Hard to believe the SC won’t agree with a ruling as strong as Judge Gievers was,. ” clearly and conclusively defective”

      • Luke Brown

        August 29, 2018 at 9:19 pm

        Craig–I’m not a tree-hugger, but when dogs or horses are, or stand the chance to get doped or hurt so people can bet on the outcomes of races or the owner(s) a profit, I vote no. That is a wholly separate issue than the wording of the amendment–it is a broader issue. Dog shows are entirely different. Brush-outs, baths, obedience-training and the like do not put a dog’s welfare at risk.

        • Joe T

          August 30, 2018 at 2:14 pm

          anything related to having a pet will be next, the groups backing this doesnt think humans should own animals and everyone should be vegans, you have the HSUS backing it that says Michael Vick would be a good dog owner. In dog shows dogs can be abused, greyhounds get brush-outs, baths, training etc, it is in their DNA to do what they do, and if drugging was such a big issue as they want you to believe, females would be the only ones winning, How do you feel about animal shelters that kill animals on purpose

        • Steven Grab Maczyk

          August 30, 2018 at 3:40 pm

          VOTE NO ON 13 = STATUS QUO

        • Elaine Summerhill

          August 31, 2018 at 4:58 pm

          According to the extremists, they do put welfare at risk. To animal rights extremists, a responsible breeder is a contradiction because anyone breeding is not responsible enough to help keep the population in check and is, in fact, responsible for the births and deaths of unwanted dogs. Every dog purchased from a breeder or pet store is a vote for more breeding and a death sentence for a dog in a shelter. Animal rights activists object to promoting purebred dogs, not only because it encourages breeding and inbreeding, but also because it implies these dogs are more desirable than others. Without dog shows, there would be less of a demand for dogs who have a certain pedigree or conform to an artificial set of physical specifications that are considered ideal for each breed & more dogs would be adopted from shelters.

          As for racing greyhounds, they are not “doped up” or intentionally hurt to affect the outcome of any race. Doping a dog defeats the purpose of dogs winning. It’s also illegal and grounds for expulsion from NGA and prison time.

  • Craig Laginess

    August 29, 2018 at 9:30 pm

    Luke, the dogs aren’t doped. Less than one thousandth of a percent tested positive and there was NO canine DNA found. The dogs are treated like royalty and when they are done racing or can’t race they are adopted out. Please don’t believe the Grey2k and HSUS lies.

  • Wendi Tremblay

    August 29, 2018 at 11:19 pm

    The racing greyhounds of today are well treated, in superb shape and health, and are not “doped.” That is the cry of the anti racing activists, who will turn to banning other dog or animal related competitions if they succeed at dog racing. The “big” story of cocaine last Sept was silenced by a split sample that was sent to another lab which revealed NO CONCLUSIVE CANINE DNA! So who tampered with that sample?! I find it odd that the former head of drug testing resigned and now lobbies for one of the three anti-racing activist groups. Greyhound track kennels of today are clean, and they eat a good diet of fresh meat, fresh veggies, fruits, and pasta or rice. Not what the activist groups tell you. I have watched it be prepared. Have all voters watched this, and the love these dogs get while doing what they absolutely love to do… chase and run! To own a greyhound is to love a greyhound and respect that desire in them to let the chase dominate their mind and be happy doing it. I implore voters of Florida to visit one of the tracks that the NGA will open up this fall for tours and see for yourself that Greyhounds are America’s Best Kept Dogs now. Should this Amendment pass, 10,000 greyhounds and 5,000 puppies will be “jobless” within a year. Adoption groups that currently re-home close to 100% of greyhounds, (the rest go home with track owners or staff or are bred), cannot handle that many all at once, and regular shelters are always full. Due to breed differences, greyhounds cannot go to regular shelters anyway. So the unknowing public who votes to approve this, would be dooming these beautiful dogs without realizing it. Another unwelcome consequence will be casinos popping up in many places people don’t want them, because of the “decoupling.” There is a lot of convoluted language in this Amendment. It needs to stay OFF the ballot. But if it is put back on, Floridians who really care about greyhound welfare need to Vote NO on 13.

  • Phil Fremont

    August 30, 2018 at 11:32 am

    These bums at grey2k are notoriously famous for there one minded agenda they got caught doing the same thing in Massachusetts it was indeed thrown out there the first time there isn’t anything any of them do that’s deceiving and for their I’ll gotten gains then they drag all the do gooders in the fold because all of these MOONBATS are all just looking to FEEL GOOD I have an idea why don’t all of you loose balls donate money or time to the Dana Farber children’s cancer center in Boston that would be much better served than this baloney ass act

  • Phil Fremont

    August 30, 2018 at 12:25 pm

    These bums at grey2k are notoriously famous for there one minded agenda they got caught doing the same thing in Massachusetts it was indeed thrown out there the first time there isn’t anything any of them do that’s not deceiving and for their I’ll gotten gains then they drag all the do gooders in the fold because all of these MOONBATS are all just looking to FEEL GOOD I have an idea why don’t all of you loose balls donate money or time to the Dana Farber children’s cancer center in Boston that would be much better served than this baloney ass act

  • Luke Brown

    August 30, 2018 at 2:58 pm

    Joe T.: Kill-shelters are more barbaric. Their existence results from the irresponsibility of humans who do not tend to the care of their pets by spaying, neutering, or training. They result from unfit people having pets.
    In answer to your next question, yes, I would support that at least a portion of the money that has been spent on the Constitutional Amendment (by both sides of the issue) be devoted to animal welfare efforts.

  • Steve

    August 30, 2018 at 3:59 pm

    I had greyhounds got many years. They are treated royally. Vote no.

  • Matthew

    August 30, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    If you don’t like greyhound racing, don’t go to the races. I would imagine that if they don’t make money they will go out of business. It’s pretty simple. It should not be a statewide vote.

    If people don’t care for a certain restaurant, they stop going there. Without customers, the restaurant goes out of business. Again, it’s pretty simple. There is no statewide vote to decide if the restaurant is allowed to stay open.

    When people living in areas where greyhound racing has not been approved are allowed to force their views on people who live in areas that have previously voted to allow greyhound racing, we begin going down that slippery slope. This is how our freedoms start getting taken away from us.

  • Luke S Brown

    August 31, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    Ms. Summerhill–I concur with your comments about breeders, purebreds, and the like. However, I did not say, nor do I believe, that most owners of racing dogs intentionally hurt them (unlike “lowlife”–pardon the term–who raise dogs to fight and then wager on the fights). Far and away you are in a different world. My point was only that racers are bound to be injured in the course of racing, especially over any period of time. Whatever the owners may earn or pride that comes to them from having a winner is not worth the injury(ies), irrespective of good veterinary care.

  • Craig Laginess

    September 1, 2018 at 8:33 am

    Luke, greyhounds are athletes. Everytime an athlete participates in a sport their is a risk of injury. So if you are basing banning greyhound racing solely off of that then let’s ban all sports. The percentage of injuries is minute once you base it off the number of starts. A dog has a higher risk of injury in someone’s backyard. Vote NO on 13, if it makes it to the ballot. Also, vote NO on all of the proposed amendments.

Comments are closed.


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