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Friday, October 28, 2011

Jeb Bush just can't help bashing teachers, this time he does it in the name of religious freedom

From Scathing Purple Musings

by Bob Sykes

Leon County circuit court judge Terry Lewis began hearing arguments yesterday regarding a ballot initiative (Amendment 7) that would strike down the ”Blaine Amendment”. Blaine bars state funding of religious organizations. The FEA joined other religious groups in opposing the measure. In July, Jeb Bush excoriated Florida’s teachers for their suit:

“Amendment 7 is not about vouchers. It is about providing Floridians high-quality public services (social, healthcare, and education), irrespective of the provider’s religious affiliation. The amendment simply aligns the Florida Constitution with protections that already exist in the U.S. Constitution. Unions are more interested in protecting political monopolies than ensuring every Floridian has access to the high-quality services that best fit their needs. By making this about vouchers and educational choice, the teachers unions are again proving they care more about power than equipping Sunshine State students for success.”

Really? Consider this from this morning’s Orlando Sun-Sentinel:

The proposed constitutional amendment, which would go on the November 2012 ballot, would eliminate a constitutional prohibition — referred to as the “Blaine Amendment” — that bars state funding of religious institutions

But the FEA, which led the suit, did not focus on a church-and-state argument, instead choosing a strategy frequently employed by groups seeking to knock amendments off the ballot. The group contended that the title and summary
of the proposed amendment were unclear and would confuse voters.

The ballot title is “Religious Freedom,” which FEA attorney Ron Meyer argued was confusing because it makes no mention of state funding.

“The requirement is that it be clear and unambiguous so that everybody who goes in and reads it understands what it will and won’t do,” he said.

Daniel Nordby, a lawyer for the Secretary of State’s Office, countered that the ballot language and summary did not use terms that were “inconsistent” with the amendment and therefore would not confuse the voter.

A separate part of the case challenged a new law that would allow the state attorney general to rewrite ballot language if a court struck an amendment because it was unclear. Meyer said that raised separation of powers concerns.

Scott Makar, the state’s solicitor general, argued that the attorney general has the right to “repair” defective language and that language in the law assured the changes would not affect the intent of the amendment.

Judge Terry Lewis asked both sides to prepare potential orders for him by next Friday, but he did not indicate when he will issue his ruling.

Jeb Bush has done more than anyone else to besmirch the reputation of the state’s teachers. He just doesn’t seem to be able to help himself when he has the opportunity. Be sure to understand that if Bush says its not about vouchers…its about vouchers. If they are so virtuous, why not try to do it above board?

Bush and his republican legislative allies know that vouchers – when standing alone – have already been struck down by state courts. Amendment 7 is another transparent, back-channel attempt to impose vouchers on the state. This gambit has nothing whatsoever to do with religious freedom and its disingenuous for them to imply otherwise. By labeling it in such a misleading fashion they are demonstrating their contempt for voters and their need to trick them.

1 comment:

  1. The United States Supreme Court has already ruled that vouchers are permissible.

    The Florida Constitution Article I Section 3
    has been used for 125 years for the benefit of protestants and to the detriment of Catholics.
    Historically, the white, protestant, male majority of the Florida Supreme Court has tolerated aid to protestant schools and protestant churches while using Article I Section 3 to block aid to students in Catholic schools. Even if the author's original intent was noble, which it was not, the discriminatory use of the no-aid provision makes it unconstitutional.

    When the Treaty with Spain was ratified ceding Florida to the United States, it was common practise for the State governments in existence and the United States government to provide funds to schools. Non-sectarian schools and taxes for education started long after the Treaty was ratified. Spain also provided funds to schools and indeed supplemented the pay of priests, nuns, and brothers teaching in the schools. Equitable aid to schools without reference to the religious affilation of a school seems to be required by our treaty.