Justices asked to quickly take up dog racing ban

By The News Service of Florida
Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images

Dogs racing at The Meadows Greyhound track.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Noting that time is of the essence, a three-judge appellate panel Monday asked the Florida Supreme Court to decide whether a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban commercial greyhound racing should be stripped from the November ballot.

Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers last week knocked the dog-racing ban off the ballot, saying it would be misleading to voters. She ruled for the Florida Greyhound Association, which represents breeders, owners and trainers and filed the lawsuit challenging what is known as Amendment 13.

The amendment was one of eight ballot measures placed on the Nov. 6 general-election ballot by the state Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years and has unique authority to go directly to voters with proposed constitutional changes. The measure would ban commercial greyhound racing in the state after Dec. 31, 2020.

Gievers found the proposed amendment “is misleading and inaccurate and incomplete, while adding up to a ‘hide the ball,’ ‘fly a false flag’ and outright ‘trickeration.’”

The state immediately appealed the judge’s ruling to the 1st District Court of Appeal.

On Monday, a three-judge panel asked the state’s highest court to decide the issue, something both sides had sought to speed up resolution of the case.

Appeals-court judges Joseph Lewis, Scott Makar and M. Kemmerly Thomas wrote that “certification” to the Supreme Court is proper because “the issues presented are of great public importance, arising from a proposal of the Florida Constitution Revision Commission” and “a need for immediate resolution exists due to time constraints related to the pending election and ballot preparation timelines.”

The appellate judges also noted that they “stand ready to assist on an emergency basis” if the matter is remanded back to them.

As an example of the issues involved in the case, Gievers ruled that the ballot proposal would be misleading because it would not actually ban dog-race wagering. That is because betting would still be allowed at Florida tracks on races broadcast from outside the state.

News Service of Florida