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Amendment 8 ruling appeal heads straight to Florida Supreme Court

A Leon County judge on Monday removed the measure from the November ballot

Citing a need for speed, Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal has sent the question of whether Amendment 8 should return to the November ballot directly to the state Supreme Court.

Lawyers for both sides in the case, initially brought by the League of Women Voters, jointly recommended it pass directly to the high court. The three-judge panel agreed to the expedited treatment, saying the appeal "involves a question of great public importance and requires immediate resolution by the Supreme Court of Florida."

Specifically, the League contended the title and summary of Amendment 8 are misleading and do not clearly state the chief purpose of the proposal, which packages three separate education questions. Those are whether to set school board term limits, embed civics education in the constitution, and allow for the creation of a public school authorizer separate from local school boards.

Leon County Judge John Cooper agreed, tossing the measure off the November ballot.

Related coverage: Judge orders Amendment 8 be removed from Florida ballot 

Time is short to give Cooper's ruling further consideration. The question must be decided by Sept. 4, to provide election officials time to prepare an already lengthy ballot.

The Supreme Court has not set a date to review this case. It did set some deadlines for document submission, though.

The state's brief on the merits must be filed no later than noon Monday, and the response is due by 4 p.m. Wednesday (Aug. 29). The state's reply to that must arrive by 3 p.m. Aug. 31.

The court withheld a decision on whether to request oral arguments.

The court also has another case before it, seeking to remove Amendment 8 and five others from the ballot. That case, which contends the proposals are unconstitutionally bundled, has not been scheduled for any hearing, either.

Related coverage: State responds to challenge of six bundled amendment proposals, calls them proper 

[NOTE: This report has been updated to reflect deadlines set by the Supreme Court.]