TALLAHASSEE (AP) — A proposed state constitutional amendment that would repeal Florida's ban on public financial aid to religious organizations should be stripped from the November 2012 ballot, a teachers union lawyer argued before a judge on Oct. 27.
Amendment 7's title, “Religious Freedom,” and ballot summary are misleading, Florida Education Association attorney Ron Meyer told Circuit Judge Terry Lewis during a court hearing.
They fail to sufficiently warn voters that the Republican-controlled Legislature's ballot proposal also would turn the existing prohibition upside down by requiring state and local government agencies, instead, to provide funding for churches and other religious entities, Meyer said.
Meyer was also arguing for some public school officials and clergy who are part of the challenge. He focused on the summary's statement that the changes would be “consistent with the U.S. Constitution.”
“This affirmatively misleads the voter into believing all we're voting on is a proposal that will make the Florida Constitution consistent with the federal constitution, when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth,” Meyer said.
He said the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows for but does not require funding of religious organizations as the Florida proposal would.
Lewis indicated he will rule soon but not before the attorneys submit suggested orders that are not due until Nov. 4.