It’s nice when judges actually attempt to understand the actions of the typical voter or consumer. In striking down the unfunded property tax swap amendment (Amendment 5) yesterday, we had this exchange before the Florida Supreme Court:
Leon County Circuit Court Judge John Cooper first ruled Amendment 5 unconstitutional because of that misleading implication. Wednesday, the high court agreed. Several justices reiterated his reasoning that the title and summary could confuse voters.
‘The average person is going to read this and say, `OK, those property taxes are gone, but the state is going to put that same amount of money back into the school system — I don’t have anything to worry about,’ ” said Chief Justice Peggy Quince. “What will put them on notice . . . that this isn’t a feature of it?”
Mark Herron, the attorney representing the Florida Association of Realtors and other proponents, argued that the amendment ”doesn’t imply or infer” that the money will be replaced beyond the first year.
Justice Charles Wells disagreed. ”Unfortunately, like I find with some warranties, it’s not a lifetime warranty and I don’t have any recourse,” he said.
How about that? Now let’s get some of our local judges to understand that merely having language buried somewhere in a document doesn’t mean that everyone will understand it or agree to it.
Are you listening, Judge Shepherd?