Amendment 5: Judicial Reform - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Amendment 5: Judicial Reform

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Bay County, Fla. -

If Amendment 5 passes on November 6th, there will changes to article 5 of the state's constitution. Opponents of the amendment say it attacks the state's Supreme Court, a branch of our three legged government.

"When you weaken one leg as this amendment seeks to do, your stool is not going to stand." Bay County League of Women Voters President Jaime Shepard says.

Unlike the federal constitution, Florida law says the legislature can repeal state Supreme Court rulings by a 2/3rd vote. If Amendment 5 passes, only a simple majority (50% +1) will be needed.

If Congress wanted to, they could do so by enacting laws.

"We are just creating a fair process of checks and balances whereas the legislature can then repeal a rule that has been created by a body that is not elected." Representative Marti Coley of District 7 says.

But the Florida League of Women Voters says it only restricts the court powers. "The independence of the judiciary is a founding principal in the constitution. They came from a country where the courts weren't fair and they wanted to be sure that courts were independent and fair." Shepard says.

"Do you think that if this is as ideal as you say, why wasn't it passed at the federal level?" News 13's Andrew Ruiz asked Coley and she responded.

"I can't speak to that. I am simply saying that as a state governing body there are a lot of things that our federal government does that we in Florida would not want our government to do."

Amendment 5 has two additional parts: It gives the senate confirmation power of Supreme Court justices; it also expands the ability of the state house of representatives to review confidential files about judges, even if they are not being considered for impeachment.