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Florida Constitution Law Outline

Florida Constitution Law Outline

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Published by Brian M. Rowland
This outline may be outdated to the extent that new case law has affected interpretation or amendments have been made to the Florida Constitution
This outline may be outdated to the extent that new case law has affected interpretation or amendments have been made to the Florida Constitution

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Published by: Brian M. Rowland on Nov 24, 2007
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05/29/2014

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STATE CONSTITUTIONAL LAWCONTENTS
Declaration of Rights—Chapter 7. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1-15Introduction to Studying the Florida Constitution—Chapter 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15-20Separation of Powers—Chapter 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20-25The Legislature—Chapter 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25-32The Courts—Chapter 4 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32-56Local Government—Chapter 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56-61Table of Cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61-64
I. DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
A. The federal government is a government of delegated powers. The people of eachstate had all political power to begin with and delegated some of that power as federalpowers under the U.S. Constitution.B. The federal Bill of Rights (BOR) is not a grant or delegation of power, but a limitation onexisting federal powersC. The federal BOR has been made applicable to the state governments via theFourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.D. The state Declaration of Rights (DOR) exists to:1. protect rights not enumerated in the federal BOR (
EX—
Privacy);2. elaborate and go further than the express protections afforded by the federal BOR(
EX—
the state requiring a speedy trial within 90 days instead of the federal 180);3. and maintain an independent identity for the state from the federal government (thestates came first).E. Traylor v. State (Fla. 1992)1. Needs exist for a state DOR independent from the federal BOR.a. Each state has its own identity, history, and customs to uphold for its citizens.b. State protections existed before federal ones.c. State-level interpretations allow other states to experiment with alternative formsof government in other states. A federal interpretation would be binding on allstates.2. Federal and state BOR/DOR’s “serve distinct but complimentary purposes.”3. The federal BOR acts as a floor; the state DOR’s cannot provide less protection, butmay provide more protection.F. Michigan v. Long (1983)1.
“Independent and Adequate State Grounds”
If a state supreme court reaches adecision based on state interpretations only, and indicates clearly and expressly
 
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that the decision is based solely on bona fide separate, adequate (i.e., doesn’tconflict with federal law), and independent state grounds, the U.S. Supreme Courtdoesn’t have jurisdiction to hear the case.a. This jurisdictional restriction exists to respect the sovereignty of the stategovernments and judicial systems.b. “If the state court decision indicates clearly and expressly that it is alternativelybased on bona fide separate, adequate and independent grounds, we, ofcourse, will not undertake to review the decision.”c. The Court ruled that the lower decision didn’t exclusively rely on alternativegrounds, instead relying on federal Fourth Amendment cases like Terry v. Ohio.G. Basic Rights—Article I, Section 2
1. All natural persons are equal before the law and have inalienable rights, among which are the right toenjoy and defend life and liberty, to pursue happiness, to be rewarded for industry, and to acquire,possess and protect property; except that the ownership, inheritance, disposition and possession of real property by aliens ineligible for citizenship may be regulated or prohibited by law. No personshall be deprived of any right because of race, religion or physical handicap.
2. Article I, Section 2 constitutes the equal protection clause for the state of Florida.3. This section overlaps with Section 9, substantive due process.a. Corporations are given similar protection through Section 9 rather than Section2. Section 2 technically applies only to natural persons.b. Gulf Power Company v. Bevis (Fla. 1974)—“Failure to allow the utility theopportunity to earn a fair rate of return would violate the rights to due process, to just compensation for taking of property, and the right to possess and protectproperty.”4. Shriners Hospital for Crippled Children v. Zrillic-Part I (Fla. 1990)a. Lorraine Romans died, devising family antiques and dishes to her daughter(Zrillic) while leaving the remainder of her estate as a charitable contribution toShriners.b. Zrillic requested that a circuit court avoid the charitable devise per FloridaStatute § 732.803.c. Shriners and copersonal representatives of the estate asserted an affirmativedefense that § 732.803 violated the equal protection provisions of theconstitutions of the US and Florida.d. The court uses the plain meaning of the clause to reach the conclusion that theright to devise property is a property right protected by the Florida Constitution.(1) Ownership, inheritance, disposition and possession of property is expresslydenied as a property right to aliens ineligible for citizenship.(2) Property rights in the US and Florida rest on an express constitutionalfoundation rather than the old English common law.e. Limitations on constitutionally protected rights still must be reasonablynecessary to secure the health, safety, good order, and general welfare.f. Section 732.803 is not reasonably necessary because statutes that restrictcharitable gifts were created in feudal England as part of a political powerstruggle between the King and the established church. The need for the statuteis not applicable to contemporary society and doesn’t reflect the needs anddesires of contemporary society.g. It is unreasonable for the state legislature to presume that all family membersare dependant or in financial need of a devise that otherwise would have been acharitable gift.h. The Florida Constitution and Probate Code still protect those who may bedependent in other provisions: homestead exemptions for real and personal
 
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property, coverture restrictions, elective shares, personal property exemptions,and protections against fraud, duress, mistake, and undue influence.i. Section 732.803 is therefore unconstitutional.
 j. A statute limited devises to charitable organizations. If a person died within months of expressly devising to a charitable organization, the devise was void.k. The public policy reason for the statute was to prevent organizations from soliciting devises from dying people at their family’s expense.l. The property clause of Article 1, Section 2 was interpreted to mean that a person has a constitutional right to dispose of property by devise.m. The specific exception for aliens carved out of Article 1, Section 2 implied that the exceptions (including disposition of property) WERE applicable to non-aliens or qualified aliens.
5. Equal Protection Overlap—“No Person Shall Be Deprived of Any Right Because ofRace, Religion or Physical Handicap.”a. Schreiner v. Mckenzie Tank Lines, Inc. (Fla. 1983)(1)
Issue—
Whether Article I, Section 2’s Deprivation Clause only acts to protectindividuals from government action or whether it protects against governmentAND private action against an individual where no government action exists.(2) The DCA ruled that state (government) action is required, similar to federalclaims under the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and certifiedthe question to the Florida Supreme Court.(3) Fla. ruled that state action is required before relief can be granted underArticle 1, Section 2 of the Florida Constitution, affirming the DCA.(4) The Framers of the Florida Constitution didn’t intend for Article 1, Section 2to have a broader application “than the related provision of the FourteenthAmendment to the United States Constitution.(5) McKenzie Tank Lines employed Schreiner and fired him after having 3epileptic seizures.(6) Fla. cites Shelley v. Kraemer—the equal protection clause of the FourteenthAmendment “erects no shield against merely private conduct, howeverdiscriminatory or wrongful.”(7) Three parts to Article I, Section 2:
-
Equal Protection Clause—“All natural persons are equal before thelaw…”
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Part 2 (identifies the inalienable rights of Florida citizens)—“which are . . .property…”
-
Deprivation Clause—“No person shall be deprived of any right, etc.(8) Transcripts of the Constitutional Revision Commission’s meetings show nointent to apply Article I, Section 2 to private action.(9) A statutory right exists protecting Schreiner from dismissal due to a physicalhandicap by a private employer. See § 23.161-167.
(10) Article 1, Section 2 claims require state action before a remedy under that provision may be given by the courts.(11) The legislative history didn’t indicate a desire to expand Article 1, Section 2 beyond state action.(12) Statutory COA’s currently exist to protect against similar private action (23.161-167).(13) The statutes may go BEYOND constitutional limitations. The constitutional limitations act as a floor on permissible behavior.

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