In Ford v. Browning, (FL 2nd Cir. Ct., Aug. 4, 2008), a Florida trial court has rejected challenges to two initiatives placed on the November ballot by the state's Taxation and Budget Reform Commission. Initiative 7 proposes repeal of a provision in Florida's Constitution that bans use of public funds to aid any religious or sectarian institution. It also adds language barring exclusion of any person or institution from any public program because of religion. Initiative 9 changes language in Florida's constitution regarding public schools to essentially overrule an earlier state supreme court decision striking down school vouchers. The amendment also requires at least 65% of a district's school funding to be spent on classroom instruction. (See prior posting.)
The court held that the two ballot initiatives were within the authority of the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission since they both involve matters relating to taxation or the budgetary process. It also found that the title and ballot summary for Initiative 9 are not misleading to voters. The Florida Times-Union reports on the decision. Alliance Defense Fund issued a release supporting the court's decision. Americans United for Separation of Church and State announced it would appeal the ruling.