Why Florida Supreme Court met in special session in West Palm Beach

Updated Sept 05, 2018
The Florida Supreme Court is in session in West Palm Beach this afternoon.

The seven members of Florida’s Supreme Court held a special session in West Palm Beach on Wednesday afternoon.

The focus of the nearly two-hour long session, which started just after 2 p.m., was the status of two proposed constitutional amendments on the Nov. 6 general election ballot. The two are Amendment 6 and Amendment 8.

During the session, the justices challenged and quizzed lawyers for and against the measures on a number of issues, from points of law to the wording on the ballot items. The state high court’s decision is expected soon — before the deadline to print ballots.

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Amendment 6 deals with crime victim rights, known as a Marsy’s Law, as well as increasing the judicial retirement age from 70 to 75 years of age and prohibiting state courts from deferring to an administrative agency’s interpretation of a state statute or rule in lawsuits.

Amendment 8 would establish a term limit of eight consecutive years for school board members, allow the state government to operate, supervise, and control public schools not established by the school board and require the legislature to promote civic literacy in public education.

Both amendments have been challenged by lawsuits.

On Aug. 20, a lower court judge blocked Amendment 8 from the ballot because the ballot title and ballot summary were misleading. A week later, on Aug. 27, Leon County judge Karen Gievers ruled that Amendment 6 also must be removed from the ballot because the language does not “meet the requirements of Florida laws.”

Wednesday’s Supreme Court session was held at the Fourth District Court of Appeal building at 110 S. Tamarind St. The justices were in town attending an educational seminar for judges.