NRL News

Florida’s AG asks state Supreme Court to reverse its position that a privacy clause in the State Constitution protects right to abortion 

by | Sep 8, 2022

By Dave Andrusko

On Tuesday, Attorney General Ashley Moody asked the Florida Supreme Court to “reverse a decades-old position that a privacy clause in the state Constitution protects abortion rights,” according to CBS Miami.

Lawyers in Moody’s office “addressed the issue in a 44-page document arguing that the Supreme Court should reject an effort by abortion clinics and a doctor to block a new law that prevents abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.”

Pro-life Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the bill on April 14, 2022. The law was originally supposed to take effect on July 1, before Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper blocked it. Cooper issued an injunction against it only for the state of Florida to fight back within just days by filing an appeal which placed an automatic stay on Cooper’s ruling keeping the 15-week limit in effect.

The 1989 decision “established a right to abortion under the privacy clause the voters added to the Florida Constitution through a 1980 referendum,” Michael Moline reported

But Moody’s office said the decision was wrong “from the start.” Moody’s office said in its filing: 

“It ignored that the (constitutional) provision’s plain text says nothing of abortion, that its drafters publicly disavowed guaranteeing abortion rights and that the provision was ratified in response to decisions restricting informational privacy. …”Were this (Supreme) Court to address the meaning of the Privacy Clause here, it should therefore recede from its precedents and clarify that the original meaning of the clause has nothing to say about abortion- and certainly that the Privacy Clause is not so clear as to pry the abortion debate from the hands of voters.”

CBS Miami reported that “At another point in the document, Moody’s office expressed confidence that the court ‘is likely to hold that the Privacy Clause of the Florida Constitution does not limit the Legislature from regulating abortion.’” 

The Florida Supreme Court “has become significantly more conservative since Gov. Ron DeSantis took office in early 2019,” according to CBS Miami. “Three longtime justices who consistently ruled in favor of abortion rights, Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince, left the court in 2019 because of a mandatory retirement age and were replaced by DeSantis appointees. Another DeSantis appointee, Renatha Francis, joined the seven-member court last week.” 

Categories: Judicial