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Americans for Prosperity to launch ad campaign to target justices

Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group affiliated with the Koch brothers, will unveil a political campaign on Tuesday designed to highlight the judicial records of the three Florida Supreme Court justices who are up for merit retention.

The group will will launch a web site to provide voters with information on the justices’ records: youbethejudge.com, and run 30-second television ads across the state chastising the justices, AFP of Florida president Slade O'Brien told the Herald/Times. They would not release how much they plan to spend.

The first ad will focus on the court's 5-2 decsion in 2010, rejecting the proposed constitutional amendment intended by the Legislature to counter President Barack Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act — the one Republicans dubbed ObamaCare.

“We’re not advocating for the election or defeat of any of the justices what we’re attempting to do is call more attention to them advocating from the bench,’’ O’Brien said.

The ads will be aired in television markets of Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando, Jacksonville, Daytona Beach and Tallahassee on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The 30-second ad accuses the court of rejecting a constitutional amendment written by the Legislature that would serve as a referendum on the Affordable Care Act on the November ballot. The justices ruled that the non-binding amendment included a misleading summary because it made numerous promises such as ensuring “access to health care services without waiting lists.”

When the state acknowledged the summary was misleading, it asked the court to replace the text of the amendment in the summary. The majority ruled it did not have the authority to do to substitute language the legislature intended to appear on the ballot and noted that the court has "previously asked the Legislature to establish a procedure that would avoid this problem...The Legislature has yet to establish such a process."

Justice Charles Canady wrote in his dissent that the court had done exactly that in a previous case in 2004.

Alex Villalobos, the former Republican state senator from Miami and president of Democracy at Stake, a non-profit advocacy group working to support the justices, called the ad misleading.

“They blame the court for the decision but where’s the commercial that blames the Legislature for having done it wrong in the first place,” he asked.

The Legislature subsequently rewrote the amendment and it will be one of several amendments on Florida’s lengthy November ballot.

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