Is Court Authorized to Rewrite a Ballot Summary ?
In Smith v. American Airlines, Inc., 606 So. 2d 618 (Fla. 1992), the court made the following observation: "Neither party argues that this Court has the authority to independently rewrite the ballot summary to conform to the statute, and our independent research has revealed no authority to do so." Id. at 621.
First, the Court's comments regarding an issue not raised by the parties should not be viewed as a holding. Second, the comments related to rewriting the ballot summary--not substituting the text of the amendment for the summary.
In 1992, when this Court decided American Airlines, the Legislature was still subject to the requirement that "the substance of the amendment . . . shall be an explanatory statement, not exceeding 75 words in length, of the chief purpose of the measure." 101.161(1), Fla. Stat. (1999).
Since the text of the proposed amendment exceeded seventy-five words, placing the full text of the amendment on the ballot was not an option.
Thus, the American Airlines Court only had the option of actually rewriting a ballot summary "not exceeding 75 words in length, of the chief purpose of the measure."
That is an entirely different matter than substituting the full text of the proposed amendment contained in the joint resolution for a defective ballot summary.