Friday, November 25, 2011

Supremes in no rush to review county term limits

As noted in a previous post, politicians and their cronies in Broward are appealing a 4th District Court of Appeals Decision that deemed county commission term limits -- approved by voters in 10 Florida charter counties -- constitutional.

The appeal to the Florida Supreme Court has been lodged, but that's about it. According to the court's public information officer Craig Waters, the court must first determine if it even has jurisdiction to hear the case.

The court is not in a rush, as neither side has asked that the case be expedited. And, Waters notes, "Generally, the court will not expedidite without a request."

This is not too surprising, as there is little need for speed. As attorney Andrea Flynn Morgensen pointed out to the Sarasota County Commission recently, the 4th DCA is the highest court in the state to have reviewed the issue of county term limits constitutionality and it rendered a clear and unanimous decision.

It would be highly unusual for the Supreme Court to overturn such a decision, and few believe it will. The Supreme Court might even find it doesn't have to take the case at all. After all, the 4th DCA decision does not conflict with any other decisions at the appeals level or higher. Currently, the 4th DCA decision applies statewide and all but one county are abiding by it.

The scofflaw is Sarasota, whose commissioners and their cronies have been litigating and otherwise scheming since 2005 to avoid enforcing voter-approved 8-year term limits.

This is the only loose end and not one the Supreme Court has to trifle with.


  1. Cathy Cannon Antunes 9:57pm Nov 27
    Andrea did argue that the 4th DCA decision (the Snipes decision) is binding in Sarasota. Judge Schoonover declined to rule on the consitutionality of term limits, but he did maintain jurisdiction; as I understand it, he can rule later on that issue. Because the judge did not rule on constitutionality, right now the Moore decision stands - term limits are unconstitutional.

    Who is correct here?

  2. Judge Schoonover didn't rule against constitutionality, he simpy declined to rule on it in the emergency hearing. The timely issue was the ballot language as the ballots were about to be printed. I am at a loss why the Judge didn't weigh in on this, but he still may. I defer to Andrea and Michael, the citizens' lawyers.

    Right now, term limits are constitutional according to the highest court ever to rule on the matter and this ruling is accepted by nine out of the 10 term limited counties. It seems like the only way forward here is, unfortunately, to continue to press the suit, either based on the 4th DCA or after a potentially upcoming Supreme Court decision.

    The only other thing we can do is to prevail upon the Supervisor of Elections -- or perhaps a new supervisor of elections candidate -- to enforce the law. Kathy Dent could simply do what is being done everywhere else: refuse to accept the candidacy of term-limited politicians.