Florida’s Amendment 8 Soundly Defeated

November 7, 2012

Florida's Amendment 8 ballot initiative, which would have eliminated the state constitution's provision prohibiting state funding of religious or sectarian organizations, was soundly defeated at the polls. Only 44 percent of voters approved the initiative, which required a 60 percent vote for passage -- this despite enthusiastic and open-handed support by the Roman Catholic Church. Opponents of the measure included the Florida Education Association, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and a spectrum of both secular and pro-education organizations. If Amendment 8 passed, it would likely have rendered moot Council for Secular Humanism v. McNeil, our lawsuit (ongoing since 2007) challenging state contracts with explicitly sectarian religious charities.

I advanced one argument against the bill in an October 9 op-ed in the Tallahassee Democrat (https://www.tallahassee.com/article/20121010/OPINION05/310100007/Tom-Flynn-Amendment-8-would-attack-religious-freedom); most major Florida papers ultimately editorialized against the measure.

The election result means that litigation of our suit can continue, buoyed by a clear refusal by Florida voters to reject the principle on which our suit was brought. Onward!