FHD ASKS FEDERAL COURT TO DIRECT STATE TO PLACE
THE HOMETOWN DEMOCRACY AMENDMENT
ON THE NOVEMBER 2008 BALLOT.
Today, Florida Hometown Democracy, Inc. together with individual supporters, filed suit in the Southern District of Florida, seeking ballot placement for the Florida Hometown Democracy citizens’ initiative in the November 2008 election.
Florida Hometown Democracy is the sponsor of a citizens’ initiative to amend the Florida Constitution. The proposed amendment will establish that changes to comprehensive land use plans approved by city and commissions must be submitted to referendum for final approval or rejection by voters. Hometown Democracy is a response to decades of uncontrolled development that cares nothing for the long term health and sustainability of communities, Florida ’s unique environmental heritage or the quality of life of Floridians. Voters must have the final say over changes to their local growth plans because they are the ones who must live with the consequences.
Over 820,000 Floridians signed the Hometown Democracy petition to place the initiative on the November 2008 ballot. The Florida Division of Elections website currently posts 595,368 valid petition signatures. However, numerous actions by the Florida Division of Elections and opponents of Hometown Democracy blocked Hometown Democracy from having its ballot position certified, in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution. The suit asks the federal court to examine and overturn these actions, and place Hometown Democracy on the November 2008 ballot.
The suit asserts that that the State’s recent rollback of the citizen petition filing deadline to February 1st violates the U.S. constitution because 1) it serves no legitimate state interest; 2) it differs from the certification deadlines imposed on other methods for amending the Florida constitution; 3) it interferes with Floridians’ rights to associate with others for the advancement of their political beliefs; and 4) it interferes with Floridians rights to cast their votes effectively. The suit further asserts that the state acted unconstitutionally because many of the state’s 67 supervisors of elections used all manner of varying petition validation criteria that depart from state law to unlawfully reject tens of thousands of Hometown Democracy petitions. Indeed, whether or not a petition was accepted or rejected often depended on to which county the petition was submitted. The suit also asserts that the state’s recent adoption of an anti-initiative statute, which gives commercial establishments the right to permit or exclude initiative petitioning as they see fit, is patently unconstitutional.
Hometown Democracy has retained noted ballot access attorney Gary Sinowski of New York City as its lead counsel. For about 30 years, Mr. Sinowski has successfully challenged unconstitutional restrictions on ballot access throughout the United States . Plaintiffs look forward to a swift resolution of this important constitutional case.
Hometown Democracy President Lesley Blackner urged all supporters to continue to send donations, petitions, and continue to talk with their fellow Floridians about this important amendment. She stated, “After a careful post mortem of what happened to Hometown Democracy, we are compelled to take this matter to federal court. The State’s constant war against the citizens’ right to amend their own constitution must stop. The way our petitions were treated is Bush v. Gore all over again. Fortunately, we the people have the United States Constitution on our side. We look forward to a complete exposé of the tactics employed to deny us of our constitutional rights and a swift vindication in court. We fully expect to be on the November ballot.”
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
Lesley Blackner: 866-779-5513