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Ballot Question Could Impact State's Highest Court

MIAMI (CBS4) - This week CBS4 has been taking a closer look at the 11 constitutional amendments on the ballot in the November elections.

The amendments can be quite confusing and at the same time carry significant impact.

Such is the case with Amendment 5 which has the potential to dramatically change Florida's Supreme Court, the highest court in the state.

First, it gives the Florida Senate the ability to confirm Supreme Court judges. Currently, the governor makes these appointments. The second part of the amendment would give the Legislature the ability to overrule a Supreme Court ruling with a simple majority vote.

To understand Amendment 5's origins you have to go back a couple of years to 2010.

President Barack Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 had just been passed. Florida's Republican majority legislature was eager to repeal it. They approved a repeal amendment for your 2010 ballot. But soon after, Florida's Supreme Court overturned it along with two other amendments for language issues. They called the health care amendment misleading.

The following session House Speaker Dean Cannon offered up a bill to break the Supreme Court into two divisions, civil and criminal. Several groups protested the bill and what you see this November is the final result.

Supporters of the amendment believe the Senate approval of the governor's appointments will lead to a better balance of power. However the Collins Center for Public Policy quotes opponents of the amendment saying it is a quote "dangerous attempt to exert political influence over the judicial branch by giving legislators more authority."

Another amendment on the ballot also deals with appointments but its impact some would call laughable.

Amendment 12 deals with the Florida Board of Governors which oversees the state's universities.

The ballot question for Amendment 12 asks voters whether a council should be created made up of student body presidents. Ultimately the new council would elect a chairman who would sit on the Board of Governors.

Currently the seat is occupied by a student body president who chairs an association of student body presidents. So you are replacing an association chairman with a newly formed council chairman of the same student body presidents. The reason for the change is that Florida State University does not want to pay to be a member of the association. Once voters understand this amendment it is likely many will be puzzled why legislators felt everyone in the state needed to address this.


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