In wrestling terms, Florida politicians have suffered a pile-driver, full-nelson and double-knee gut-buster.
All within the last few weeks.
The good news is that these politicians aren't in the wrestling ring. Otherwise, they'd be in traction, and we'd be looking at them in singlets. (Eww.)
Still, the politicians could stave off futures smackdowns — and save time and money — if they'd quit trying to usurp the people's power and just do their jobs.
One recent beatdown came at the hands of a judge who schooled them on the facts that most of us learned back in civics class — that the constitution can't be ignored.
The ruling came in a case involving a group of fed-up parents who sued the state, saying they are sick and tired of Florida politicians short-changing our public schools.
The parents argue that Florida's school system — which features one of the lowest graduation rates in America — violates the state's constitutional obligation to provide a "high quality" education.
They have a good point.
But legislators, who would rather eat glass than properly fund schools, objected, saying that they shouldn't have to live up to such a silly and nebulous requirement … even if it is specifically spelled out in Article 9 of the constitution.
The judge basically said that if legislators want to argue that Florida schools and their 47th-place ranking for graduation rates are, in fact, "high quality," they are free to do so. But they can't just disregard the parts of the constitution they don't like.
We could perhaps ignore this silly legal strategy by legislators if it were a lone example. But it's not.
Legislators also got court-whacked in their pitiful attempt to protect their right to gerrymander.
Lawmakers, you see, know that Floridians will probably approve two fair-districting amendments on the November ballot. Amendments 5 and 6, after all, are good ideas — moves to prohibit politicians from drawing snake-like districts that slink through seven or eight counties and split neighborhoods in half, just so the politicians can get enough partisan voters to stay in office.
The amendments would make elections more fair — which is the last thing these guys want. If the deck ain't stacked, they don't want to play the game.
So legislators tried to add their own redistricting amendment to the ballot (No. 7) — one where the main goal was to undermine the impact of the other two.
Sound confusing? Well, you're not alone. The judge handling the case said the legislators' ham-handed effort to thwart voters took him more than three days to understand. Hizzoner, an appointee of both Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist, then tossed their proposed amendment off the ballot.
Lawmakers cherish their ability to gerrymander far too much to take no for an answer. In fact, upcoming house speaker Dean Cannon cared so much that he personally argued the appeal before the Supreme Court, which ruled against him late Tuesday.
But the legal beatdowns don't stop there.
Last week, another judge ruled that the legislature's attempts to gut the state's growth-management laws were unconstitutional. Another ruled earlier that legislators were trying to overstep their authority in trying to obstruct federal healthcare reform. The Supreme Court agreed with that one, too.
In most every case, the politicians tried to argue that rules don't apply to them.
And one judge after another reminded them that they are wrong.
The silliest part of all of this is that most of these lawsuits and amendment fights wouldn't be an issue if Florida politicians just did what they are supposed to do in the first place.
If they took care of our schools.
If they didn't try to rig elections.
If they'd stop playing games and simply do their jobs.
Scott Maxwell, who vows to never again link the words "politicians" and "singlets" … without at least first providing a nausea warning, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-420-6141.
Legal smackdowns should send politicians a strong message
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