Monday, December 12, 2011

Supremes to offer last word on constitutionality of county term limits

The Florida Supreme Court has decided to hear an appeal of the 4th District Court of Appeals decision in August that unanimously affirmed the constitutionality of voter-approved term limits throughout the state.

Here's the Supreme Court's order, issued today.

The appeal is being led by county politicians and their allies in Broward County who have been using the courts, so far unsuccessfully, to try to overturn 2000 referendum in which 80 percent of Broward voters limited the term of their county commissioners. The petitioners initial brief is due by Jan. 6, 2012.

If the Supreme Court affirms the 4th DCA's decision, it will finally secure the county commission term limits passed by voters in 10 of Florida's 20 charter -- or "home rule" -- counties. It would also give a green light to nascent county term limits efforts getting under way in Lee, Osceola and Miami-Dade Counties.

Politicians have challenged voter-approved term limits in several counties, notably Sarasota County where term limits are in the charter but where politicians have used local litigation and political manuevers to avoid enforcement. It is expected the Supreme Court will put a stop to such shenanigans. We'll see.

UPDATE: The court has also agreed to hear the Polk County case in which a county commissioner and a local crony are suing to try to overturn term limits.

UPDATE: In Sarasota, where local politicians are refusing to enforce the term limits in their county charter, a group of 16 citizens are asking a local judge to force the county to comply. Further, they are asking that the case go directly to the Supreme Court a la Polk.

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