Lawyers for ‘Keep Our Constitution Clean’ seek approval from Supreme Court

Supreme Court of Florida
Potential amendments would need to be approved by voters twice before taking effect.

A political committee pushing to make it harder to approve constitutional amendments is asking the Supreme Court to give a green light to the proposed measure.

Attorneys for Keep Our Constitution Clean filed a Monday brief advocating for approval from the Supreme Court.

“The Amendment easily satisfies the requirements of article XI, section 3 of the Florida Constitution, and section 101.161, Florida Statutes,” the brief reads.

“The Sponsor, Keep Our Constitution Clean, PC, therefore requests this Court to render an advisory opinion approving the Amendment’s placement on the ballot during the 2020 general election.”

The proposal would require Florida voters to approve potential amendments two separate times on two separate ballots in order to amend the state’s constitution. Keep Our Constitution Clean added nearly $2.5 million in November to help advocate for the change.

If approved, the measure would be placed on the 2020 ballot as an amendment.

George Levesque, who represents Keep Our Constitution Clean, says the group wants to make it more difficult to alter the state’s governing document.

“We certainly hope that’s one of the byproducts of this because the group that I represent believes that the constitution should not be changed so easily,” Levesque said.

In mid-November, Attorney General Ashley Moody initially petitioned the Supreme Court for an advisory opinion regarding the proposed measure.

Opponents had a Dec. 3 deadline to file briefs voicing their displeasure. But no opposing briefs were filed.

Still, the committee filed a brief of its own to make its case to the court.

“The Amendment, in simple and direct language, revises existing provisions of article XI, sections 5 and 7 of the Florida Constitution, to require that any subsequent amendments to the Florida Constitution must be passed by the current election thresholds twice in separate elections before being approved—and nothing more,” the brief reads.

“Using neutral language, the ballot title and summary alerts the voter that the Amendment addresses voter approval of amendments to the constitution and informs the voter  of the chief purpose of the Amendment: to require future amendments to the constitution to be approved by the voters in two separate elections, while making it clear that the current thresholds for passage of an amendment will apply to both elections. Accordingly, this Court should issue an advisory opinion approving the Amendment, including the ballot title and summary, for placement on the ballot.

In addition to earning approval from the Supreme Court, the group also needs additional petition signatures to earn a spot on the 2020 ballot. The group has collected just over 500,000 signatures. A total of 766,200 signature are required.

Analysts say the proposal would likely have a significant cost, though that number has not been nailed down.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].

One comment

  • Edward Freeman

    December 24, 2019 at 5:34 am

    The reason that citizens have retained a small amount of their power to directly change the state constitutions is to bypass a recalcitrant politicians who refuse to perform their duties as representatives of the people and instead govern in their own self interest.  Floridians have seen this cynical self interest in spades in recent years as Florida’s Governor and legislature have refused to faithfully implement citizen initiated changes to the state constitution on numerous occasions.  Florida needs a mechanism to force its highly corrupt, self interested politician to stop subverting the will of the people, yet this proposed amendment would take Florida in the opposite direction and make it almost impossible for Floridians to directly express their will.  Hopefully, Floridians will see the AstroTurf organization and its effort to rob them of this modicum of remaining rights as the power grab by greedy politicians that it is and reject it strongly by not even signing their petitions to place this blatant threat to democracy on the ballot.   Shame on these crooks.

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