Amendment 5: State Courts

Published: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, October 7, 2012 at 12:57 a.m.

A look at the constitutional amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot from the League of Women Voters of Florida Education Fund:

Amendment 5: State Courts

Synopsis: This proposed amendment would alter the balance of power among the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government. Its most meaningful provision is the one granting the state Senate confirmation power over appointees to the Florida Supreme Court. Currently, the governor fills openings on the court by appointing a nominee from a list presented by a judicial nominating commission. If passed, this amendment would allow the Senate to reject or approve nominees. It would also give members of the state House of Representatives expanded access to confidential files involving judges accused of misconduct, and would give lawmakers the right to repeal procedural court rules, such as speedy trial time limits or deadlines for filing court documents, with a simple majority vote rather than a two-thirds majority vote, as currently required. Supporters of Amendment 5 say it would bring much needed change to a court system that gives the governor too much power in appointing judges. Opponents say the measure is a dangerous attempt to exert political influence over the judicial branch by giving legislators more authority.

A vote YES on Amendment 5 would:

- Require the Florida Senate to vote to confirm or reject a gubernatorial appointment to the state Supreme Court

- Allow the Legislature to repeal statewide judicial rules adopted by the Supreme Court by a simple majority vote instead of a two-thirds vote

- Expand the ability of the state House of Representatives to review confidential files about judges, even if they are not being considered for impeachment

A vote NO on Amendment 5 would:

- Maintain the current method of selecting justices for the Florida Supreme Court by allowing the governor to make appointments without legislative approval

- Continue to require a two-thirds vote to repeal statewide judicial rules adopted by the Supreme Court

- Continue to require that files on judges remain confidential unless needed for use in consideration of impeachment

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