A year ago, Florida residents took to the polls and decided that greyhound racing, once a state revenue lifeline, was no longer needed. They showed overwhelming support for Amendment 13, which was drafted to ban the dog races, but the story didn’t end there. Last month, a lawsuit was filed against the state by members of the greyhound racing industry, asserting that there had been no due process facilitated to determine who Amendment 13 would affect industry employees or the industry as a whole. The Jacksonville Business Journal points out that Florida now hopes to have that lawsuit thrown out, as it doesn’t want to have to defend its actions in court.
The suit is asking the Florida courts to implement an injunction on the ban while differences are settled. It adds, “This sets an extremely dangerous precedent that an individual may now be dispossessed of personal property at the pleasure of the mob in violation of one of the bedrock principles of the laws of the United States that our nation is not a pure democracy; instead it is a democratic republic.”
The Sunshine State’s District Attorney, Ashley Moody, disagrees. She had her lawyers respond to the lawsuit and ask that it be dismissed because the court has no authority to allow the injunction since there is no government action to stop. She also pointed out that gambling in Florida is a privilege, not a right, and, as such, is not held to the same compliance standards and legal protection afforded rights.
The DA’s position will most likely be upheld, ending an era in Florida’s gambling history. Amendment 13 used wording that opponents, including the Florida Greyhound Racing Association, the Florida Farm Bureau and others, called into question before the measure went to the ballot. They argued that the language was confusing and misleading and took their grievances to court. A judge initially sided with them, but the claim was thrown out on appeal to the State Supreme Court.
The highest court’s ruling will most likely be the crux of the DA’s arguments to keep the current lawsuit from advancing any further or, if it does proceed, arguing its case in front of a judge. The Supreme Court stated at the time, “Amendment 13’s fundamental value provision is devoid of any legislative or judicial mandate: it bestows no rights, imposes no duties, and does not empower the Legislature to take any action.”
In other words, Amendment 13 opponents would most likely only find victory if they launched their lawsuit against those who voted yes on the measure – all 5.4 million of them.