State officials arguing to block abortion amendment face skepticism from conservative Justices

Abortion AP
'It’s pretty obvious that this is a pretty aggressive, comprehensive approach to dealing with this issue. This doesn’t seem like this is trying to be deceptive.'

In what may have been a bit of surprise, some of the conservative Justices on the Florida Supreme Court sounded somewhat skeptical about blocking a proposed abortion rights amendment from the 2024 ballot.

Nearly a million voters signed petitions in order to get the amendment — which would protect abortion up to the point of viability — on the ballot. But the high court has to review the amendment to ensure it sticks to a single subject and that the ballot summary is not misleading.

Attorney General Ashley Moody has asserted that the amendment could confuse voters, but the argument didn’t resonate with several Justices during oral arguments.

Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz, who was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, disagreed with lawyers representing Moody that the purpose of the proposed amendment was being kept from voters.

“It’s pretty obvious that this is a pretty aggressive, comprehensive approach to dealing with this issue,” Muñiz said, adding, “this doesn’t seem like this is trying to be deceptive.”

Justice John Couriel did question Courtney Brewer, the attorney representing Floridians Protecting Freedom, on whether the scope of the amendment would restrict the ability of the state to regulate abortion providers for health and safety reasons. Brewer asserted that health and safety regulations could remain intact.

Meanwhile, Justice Meredith Sasso asked whether voters understood the definition of viability. Justice Renatha Francis argued that the amendment could enshrine a right to abortion for “the entire nine months” since the language allows abortions past viability for health reasons.

Brewer pushed back on Francis’ logic: “I don’t know how an amendment could better communicate its chief purpose.”

The court’s review of the proposed amendment comes as Justices are still considering whether the state’s existing 15-week abortion ban is constitutional.

The Governor signed the ban in 2022, but then the Legislature enacted a six-week ban in 2023. The six-week ban does not take effect unless the high court upholds the 15-week ban. Groups challenged the law on the grounds that it violates Florida privacy rights added to the state constitution in 1980.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, who attended the oral arguments, released a statement Wednesday. “Today we witnessed anti-choice leaders launch their final, desperate attempt to keep abortion off the ballot this November,” Book said.

“Instead of allowing abortion rights to play out democratically, the Attorney General and anti-choice extremists do not want Florida voters to have a say on Amendment 4 — not because the amendment language is unclear, but because the overwhelming majority of voters, Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike, support abortion rights. We know the language used in Amendment 4 is clear and precise in limiting government interference with abortion before viability. I believe the Florida Supreme Court will do what is right, clearing the way for Florida voters to defend reproductive freedom and abortion rights by passing Amendment 4 this November.”

House Minority Leader Fentrice Driskell also issued a statement following the oral arguments. “This amendment is ready for the voters of Florida. The Florida Supreme Court should stay in the very narrow lane our constitution gives them and not interfere with the people’s amendment process. Over a million Floridians signed the petition because they believe in a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions without political interference. The majority of Floridians want to keep abortion protected, safe and legal but extremist politicians want to outlaw it,” Driskell said.

“Let me be clear: Floridians from across the political spectrum did the work to get this on the ballot, and if they take away our right to have our voices heard: Florida will be furious. In state after state, in places like Kentucky, Kansas and Ohio, the people have spoken up against out-of-touch extremist politicians and demanded their access to abortions be protected. Here in Florida, they know that the only way to avoid another defeat and stop the will of the people, is with a procedural move like this. Florida will be watching, and the people will remember who stood with us, and who tried to silence us because they were afraid of our voices.”

Christine Jordan Sexton

Tallahassee-based health care reporter who focuses on health care policy and the politics behind it. Medicaid, health insurance, workers’ compensation, and business and professional regulation are just a few of the things that keep me busy.


  • Julia

    February 7, 2024 at 5:53 pm

    Make $280 per hour. The hiring procedure might not be simple. You have everything you need to conquer any obstacle. Posting a wide variety of job vacancies on job boards and search vx02 engines is crucial.

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  • Tom Palmer

    February 7, 2024 at 6:02 pm

    End the BS; Let us vote/

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 8, 2024 at 11:07 am

    Assley being confused doesn’t mean everybody’s confused. By all account, Assley’s just not a bright one. She more like a box of chocolates.

  • Ron Forrest Ron

    February 8, 2024 at 11:10 am

    Exactly how unpopular and overreaching does a state political party have to be when the state’s voters want to amend their own state constitution to protect themselves from their elected reps?

    And then these very same, already massively unpopular elected reps try to shut it down? Smoove Moove, X Lacks

Comments are closed.


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