Florida's Constitution plays an important role in the lives of Floridians everywhere. But the constitution Florida has today is very different from the original. In fact, there have been numerous versions of the document, and as voters continue to amend it, there are minor changes made to it seemingly every year. Below is an overall summary of the versions of Florida's Constitutions and how it has been modified.
Different Versions of Florida's Constitution
Florida's original constitution was created by 56 delegates and was the precursor to Florida being admitted to the Union in 1845. The original constitution established a judicial, legislative, and executive branch of government, but it also protected slavery and prevented free African Americans from entering the state.
A new constitution was needed when Floridians wanted to secede from the Union in 1861. But other than establishing the Confederacy as its new country, the constitution of 1861 did little else. It still protected slavery and still had three major branches of government.
After losing the civil war, many southern states had to adopt new constitutions to reflect the changes the war caused. Florida did this in 1868. Advances in this version included allowing all males to vote, and established seats in the House and Senate for Seminole Indians. Many at the time felt that this version of the constitution was forced on them from the North. As a result, Floridians changed this version soon after.
In 1885 a new constitution was adopted that attempted to reverse the advances of the 1868 constitution. To do so, the new version created a poll tax that prevent poor people of all races, but particularly African Americans, from voting. This version also weakened the governor by limiting that office to one term, and required cabinet officials to be elected.
Current Version of Florida's Constitution
Florida's current constitution was passed in 1968 when Florida continued to grow in population size. The current version has 12 articles and has reversed the discriminatory portions of past constitutions. In an effort to keep the constitution current and applicable to each new generation of voters, the new constitution established a Constitution Revision Commission whose responsibility it is to review, revise, and submit amendments to the Florida Constitution. Amendments to the new constitution can happen in five different ways:
- Through a citizen's initiative;
- By a joint resolution of Florida's legislature;
- By a recommendation by the Constitution Revision Committee;
- Through a recommendation by the Taxation and Budget Reform Commission; or
- By Constitutional convention.
An important part of the amendment process is submitting proposed amendments to the Florida Supreme Court to test whether it is constitutional or not. This helps reduce the cost of waiting for an amendment to pass, and then going through the expensive litigation process before the Supreme Court has a chance to hear a case.
Florida's current constitution plays an important role in accident and injury cases heard by courts all over Florida on a daily basis. It is important to know that the attorney taking on your case knows the ins and outs of the Florida Constitution, and can apply those principles to your case. The Pittman Firm is dedicated to serving accident and injury victims in the Panama City area. Contact us if you have been injured in an accident so we can evaluate your case for you.