Florida marijuana legalization measure blocked from 2022 ballot

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Florida Supreme Court blocks marijuana legalization initiative from 2022 ballot

Last week, I wrote that New Mexico became the third state in a month to enact recreational marijuana legalization, along with New York and Virginia. In related news, the Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 on April 22 that the state could not include a marijuana legalization initiative on the 2022 ballot. The court called the ballot summary misleading. “A constitutional amendment cannot unequivocally ‘permit’ or authorize conduct that is criminalized under federal law,” the majority opinion said. “And a ballot summary suggesting otherwise is affirmatively misleading.”

Florida’s measure would have added a section to the state constitution legalizing the personal possession, use, and purchase of 2.5 ounces of marijuana and allowing Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers to sell marijuana for personal use to adults 21 years or older.

In April 2020, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed a bill requiring the Florida Supreme Court to review whether the proposed amendment is “facially invalid under the United States Constitution” in addition to its existing requirements to review the initiative’s ballot title and compliance with the state’s single-subject rule. 

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R), the state legislature, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce filed briefs arguing that the measure was invalid because it violated federal law. The Florida Supreme Court didn’t rule on the issue because it blocked the measure based on the ballot summary. Republican governors have appointed all seven justices on the Florida Supreme Court.

In 2016, Florida voters approved Amendment 2 by a vote of 71% to 29%. That measure legalized medical marijuana for individuals with specific medical conditions that a doctor determines are debilitating.

Seventeen states and D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana—12 through statewide citizen initiatives, one through a legislatively referred constitutional amendment, and five through state legislatures. 

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Democratic, Republican Party committee 2022 fundraising about even

Through the end of the first quarter, Federal Election Commission finance reports from April 15 show where party committee fundraising stands so far—about even between the two parties. The Democratic and Republican parties each have three major party committees—a national committee and two Hill committees that focus on elections to the U.S. Senate and House.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), and Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised $105.0 million, and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), and Republican National Committee (RNC) raised $101.4 million. These six committees raised a combined $2.65 billion during the two-year 2020 election cycle.

Here are three takeaways from the first quarter reports:

  • The three Democratic Party committees (DNC, DSCC, DCCC) outraised the three Republican Party ones (RNC, NRSC, NRCC) after the first quarter of the 2022 election cycle. This is the first time that has occurred in the last three cycles.
    • The Democratic Party committees raised 3.5% more than the Republican Party committees. In 2017 and 2019, the Republican Party committees outraised the Democratic Party committees by 31.3% and 29.6%, respectively.
  • House committees: The DCCC has raised 1% more than the NRCC ($34.1 million to $33.8 million).
    • At this point in the 2020 election cycle, the DCCC had raised 25% more than the NRCC ($32.5 million to $25.1 million).
  • Senate committees: The NRSC has raised 2% more than the DSCC ($23.1 million to $22.7 million).
    • At this point in the 2020 election cycle, the NRSC had raised 35% more than the DSCC ($19.5 million to $13.8 million).
  • The DNC raised 8% more than the RNC ($48.2 million to $44.4 million).
    • At this time in the 2020 election cycle, the RNC had raised 75% more than the DNC ($45.8 million to $20.9 million).

The chart below shows cumulative first-quarter fundraising totals for all three committees from each party for 2017, 2019, and 2021.

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SCOTUS issues rulings in three cases 

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) issued opinions in three cases argued earlier this term. SCOTUS ends its April sitting this week and was scheduled to hear six hours of oral arguments from April 26 to 28. The court is scheduled to hear arguments in one case during its May sitting on May 4, concluding the 2020-2021 term.

Here’s a quick summary of the three recent decisions—click the link at the bottom for more information on each:

  • Jones v. Mississippi: In a 6-3 vote, the court ruled that the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not require a juvenile to be found as permanently incorrigible before imposing a life sentence without parole. The term incorrigibility refers to when a juvenile does not accept an adult’s authority. 
  • Carr v. Saul (consolidated with Davis v. Saul): The court issued a unanimous opinion holding that Social Security disability claimants are not required to make Appointments Clause challenges relating to the administrative law judges hearing their claims during administrative proceedings before seeking judicial review.
  • AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission: SCOTUS issued a unanimous opinion concluding that the Federal Trade Commission Act does not authorize the commission to seek equitable monetary relief like restitution or disgorgement and does not authorize a court to award such relief. 

The court agreed to hear 62 cases this term and has so far issued 30 opinions. Six cases were decided without argument. In the 2019-2020 term, SCOTUS agreed to hear 74 cases and issued decisions in 62 cases. Twelve cases were postponed to the 2020-2021 term due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Do you love following what happens at the Supreme Court as much as I do? If so, you’ll want to subscribe to our Bold Justice newsletter to stay up to date on court cases, noteworthy rulings, and judicial nominations and retirements. With SCOTUS due to issue almost 30 rulings in the next few months, you won’t want to miss an edition!

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