By Jim Saunders, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — In a case stemming from the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a challenge to a state law that threatens stiff penalties if local officials pass gun-related regulations.
The 5-1 ruling was a blow to 33 cities and counties and dozens of local officials who contended that penalties in the 2011 law were unconstitutional. It was a victory for state Republican leaders and Second Amendment advocates such as the National Rifle Association.
Florida since 1987 has barred cities and counties from passing regulations that are stricter than state firearms laws, and the penalties in the 2011 law were designed to strengthen that “preemption.” The law, for example, could lead to local officials facing $5,000 fines for passing gun regulations and would allow members of the public and organizations to receive damages and attorney fees if they successfully sue local governments for improper gun regulations.
The case did not challenge the underlying 1987 law but contended the penalties in the 2011 law were unconstitutional, in part, because they violated legal immunities for local officials and governments. Also, attorneys for the cities and counties argued the 2011 law violated the constitutional separation of powers because it would lead to courts delving into the motivations or intentions of local elected officials.
But Justice Ricky Polston, in Thursday’s 25-page majority opinion, rejected the arguments, including that the law violated what is known as “governmental function immunity,” a legal doctrine that helps shield government bodies from liability.
“The imposition of these civil statutory actions for violations of the (1987) preemption statute does not violate governmental function immunity,” Polston wrote. “It is not a core municipal function to occupy an area that the Legislature has preempted, and local governments have no lawful discretion or authority to enact ordinances that violate state preemption.”
Polston was joined in the opinion by Chief Justice Carlos Muniz and Justices Charles Canady, John Couriel and Jamie Grosshans. Justice Jorge Labarga dissented, while Justice Renatha Francis did not participate.https://91bd34fd3242f37d5ef74f8d880bcf61.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-40/html/container.html
In his dissent, Labarga argued that the 2011 law violated the separation of powers because it would empower judges to determine whether violations by local elected officials were “knowing and willful.”
“(The) requirement of judicial involvement in determining whether the action of the public official was ‘knowing and willful’ amounts to nothing less than an impermissible judicial intrusion into the official’s legislative thought process, and it undermines the official’s ability to effectuate the constituents’ will,” Labarga wrote.
The majority upheld a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal. The case involved three lawsuits that were consolidated in Leon County circuit court. The lawsuits were filed by cities and counties from various parts of the state, such as Tallahassee, Gainesville, Orlando, St. Petersburg, Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach.
Attorneys for the local governments wrote in a 2019 court document that city and county officials had been urged to take actions after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, which killed 17 people at the Broward County high school. Those requests involved such things as requiring procedures or documentation to ensure compliance with background checks and waiting periods for gun purchases and requiring reporting of failed background checks.
But the attorneys said local governments refrained from going ahead with the proposals because of the potential penalties in state law.
Former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who left office this month, joined the challenge, which drew briefs from prominent groups on both sides of the issue, including the NRA and the Giffords and Brady gun-control organizations.
If even one of the teachers in that school had been armed and trained there would have been a very different outcome. Had that monster been aware that there were armed teachers he may not have even attempted his crime but if he had, the death toll would have been minimized. These mentally ill shooters are really cowards and either run or commit suicide when they face resistance. It’s not like on TV and movies where a gun battle breaks, they run.
I think it’s past the time to protect our kids in school with armed teachers and other school personnel. Banks have armed security and that never results in innocent people getting hurt. We need to value our kids as highly as we do our money.
I find it troubling that the state’s Supreme Court has to protect us from municipal level actions that violate well established federal protections. The rule of the U.S. Constitution should be above reproach.
@Snidely — Regarding Kamala’s visit yesterday, we had no idea that it was scheduled and were shocked to find traffic along North Monroe being diverted to side roads.
And that sparked memories of Bill Clinton’s visit here during his reelection cycle, and Al Gore’s visit to Atlanta. When Bill flew in, the secret service lead the effort to close ALL businesses between the airport and Tom Brown Park. Friends were in a judo class in one of the baby strip malls on Crawfordville Road. The secret service entered the building, shut down the class, and sent everyone home. No exceptions. The Al Gore thing was a bit different. We were in Atlanta for an FSU/GT football game. From our hotel room near downtown we could see I75 from the hotel South. Things got weird when every bit of South bound traffic disappeared. Not a vehicle in sight. A couple of minutes passed and the VP motorcade could be seen heading toward the airport down I75.
Other than closing a few blocks of North Monroe Street, I’ve not heard of any extraordinary protections provided to Harris. I’m wondering if sanity has crept into planning protection or if they think that little of Harris.
Another judicial victory for the good guys. First we get the “Judge” Hinkle case in which that “Judge” is forced to give the good guys a victory on the Warren case. Then we get to roll on the floor laughing all the way thru the “Judges” angry and sophmoric (word totally stolen from JEB).
Then we get this gun law victory!!
Win Win for the good guys.
Meanwhile Kamalla’s “fake supporters” were bussed into The Moon from places unknown after FAMU and FSU told Kamalla “thanks but no thanks” to Kamalla’s request to hold her rally on university property.
What have we got?
A Win Win Win. It’s a great day here in The Capitol City!!!!
Sounds like certain Florida city and county governments have been trying to take away 2nd amendment rights from their residents (who are U.S. citizens) since at least 1987.
This is a significant win for the upholding of the U.S. Constitution.
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Why do Marxicrats have such a difficult time with reading comprehension?… oh, that’s right… the Public Indoctrination System, that why.
I bet when Jesus returns the first thing he does is get a gun; a Colt Peacemaker….