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Justice Lewis criticizes "game-playing'' of amendment process

During the animated debate over whether Amendments 5, 7 and 9 should be stripped from the November ballot, Justice R. Fred Lewis decried what he said was the "game-playing'' that has
increasingly enveloped the amendment process -- in which proponents try to snag voters
with misleading or incomplete ballot titles and summaries. Read full story here.

"It's starting to become a game and these things ought to fly on their own merit," Lewis said as the court heard arguments this morning. "We're talking about organize law of the great State of Florida and if we get into this game-playing, as it appears all the time, and it's getting more and more and more.

"Why not require, if anyone wants to change the constitution, that it not be misleading, that it not engage in all these catchy phrases and political arguing that's popular today?"

After the hearing, attorney Mark Herron, who has successfully challenged and defended several constitutional amendment proposals, said he agreed with Lewis that the process of ballot wording has become too politicized and needs reform.

"There is politicization of titles in some of these things,'' he said. "Maybe not these amendments but I tend to agree. I've had to draft them from time to time and rejected suggested titles because there have been cases where there are words in there of political import that shouldn't be in there.''

Herron said it didn't apply to the amendment he was defending, Amendment 5. Drafter wanted the title and summary to be an index of what the amendment did not expose some flashpoint.

As to the prospect of restoring Amendment 5 to the ballot, Herron was more circumspect: "I've gotten beat up a lot of times," he said. "Sometimes you win.
Sometimes you lose.'