Michael L. Feinstein, P.A.

Higher courts hear appeals concerning the Florida Constitution

Just like the country, each state has its own governing document, usually a constitution, and Florida is no exception. That document gives certain powers to each part of the government -- the governor, the legislature and the judicial branches. Sometimes, a lawsuit is filed alleging that one of these branches of the state's government somehow violated the constitution. The decisions made by judges on these cases could result in appeals to the higher Florida courts.

It would probably be difficult to find anyone here in Florida, particularly in the southern part of the state, who has not heard about the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Sadly, 17 people lost their lives in that tragedy. Governor Ron DeSantis blamed Sheriff Scott Israel and suspended him, which prompted the lawsuit.

Sheriff Israel alleges that Gov. DeSantis did not have the constitutional authority to suspend Israel since he is an elected official. It is up to the public to remove him from office if it believes, as the Governor does, that the sheriff failed in his duty to keep the children safe during the tragedy at the Broward County high school. For this reason, Sheriff Israel appealed the lower court's ruling arguing that the appellate court needs to make a ruling on how suspension powers are used by this governor, or those who come after.

These types of appeals often help define and refine the powers given to a state's governing bodies through its constitution. While appellate courts may not hear every case of this type, when they do, the ruling could provide further interpretation of that document's provisions. As is the case at the national level, the judicial branch of the state serves as an important check and balance to ensure that the citizens of the state are protected from abuses of power. Whether that existed in this case remains to be seen.

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