Thursday, January 13, 2005


Friends, the great pundit Mark Twain said it best when he allegedly made the quote that noone's life, liberty, or property is safe when the Legislature is in session.

Now the Republican leadership in Tallahassee is seriously considering revamping the Florida Constitution. According to this story in the South Florida Sun Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, the idea is to begin a two year "review of streamlining the constitution and convert it into a more 'pure' or 'pristine' document". It would have to pass both houses of the Legislature, and could go to the electorate as early as the November, 2006 General Election.

The idea came primarily from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Daniel Webster (R - Orlando), and embraced by his counterpart in the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman David Simmons (R - Altamonte Springs). It has the blessing of Jeb! and Senate President Tom Lee, as well as other in the legislative leadership.

Quite frankly, the idea of conservative Republicans in the State Capitol rewriting the Constitution scares the hell out of me. As Mark Lane put it in his FlaBlog:

They lost issue-by-issue at the polls, so now they'll just do a mass repeal of initiatives that had won over the year. And while they're at it, maybe throw in a little anti-abortion language, weaken the Sunshine Law so legislators can meet in secret without having to sneak around, remove separation of church and state language and, heck, why not add some novel Patriot-Act-style state police powers. This is a time o' war, people!

And let's make it harder for people to vote on any changes to our handiwork, too. And be sure to weaken the courts so those judges won't get in our way all the time. And some property-rights language so tree-huggers can't take us to court!

Yessiree, this could be a real Ashcroftian, Christian-Coalition-pleasing grab-bag of top-down, hard-right, we-don't-need-no-separation-of-powers-'round-here document. A model Christian Security-State Constitution with some goodies thrown in at the last minute for select contributors.

This is one plan that concerned progressives throughout Florida need to nip in the bud right NOW, before it even has a chance to come to fruition!

I know that it is by no means a perfect document. But to give the conservatives a chance to block --- or at least make more difficult --- citizen inititatives to make the will of the people law when our elected legislators fail to do their duty, to make it easier for public officials to make decisions away from the public eye...these things should not see the light of day.


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