Bush v. Holmes, No. 1D00-1121

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtKAHN, J.
PartiesJohn Ellis "Jeb" BUSH, in his official capacity as Governor of the State of Florida and Chairman of the State Board of Education; Attorney General Robert A. Butterworth, Secretary of Education Tom Gallagher, Secretary of State Katherine Harris, Comptroller Robert Milligan, Commissioner of Insurance and State Treasurer Bill Nelson, Commissioner of Agriculture Bob Crawford, in their official capacities and as members of the State Board of Education; and Florida Department of Education, Appellants, v. Ruth D. HOLMES; Gregory and Susan Watson on behalf of themselves and their minor children Sarah, Seth, and Sybil Watson; Rebecca Hale, on behalf of herself and her minor child, Jessica Dennis; John Rigsby, on behalf of himself and his minor children, Thaddeus and Porsche Rigsby; Queen E. Nelson, on behalf of herself and her minor grandchild, Ashley Wilson; Samuel Watts on behalf of himself and his minor children, Rondale, Reynard, and Rebecca Watts; Linda Lerner; Betsy H. Kaplan; Florida State Conference of Branches of NAACP; Citizens' Coalition for Public Schools; The Florida Congress of Parents and Teachers (a/k/a "Florida PTA"); Florida Education Association/United, AFT AFL-CIO, a labor organization and Florida taxpayer; and Pat Tornillo, Jr., Andy Ford, Rita Moody, Mary Lopez, and Robert F. Lee, as Florida taxpayers, Appellees. Brenda McShane, in her own behalf as natural guardian of her child, Brenisha McShane; Dermita Merkman, in her own behalf and as natural guardian of her child, Jessica Merkman; Tracy Richardson, in her own behalf and as natural guardian of her child, Khaliah Clanton; Sharon Mallety, in her own behalf and as natural guardian of her child, Jermall Bell; Barbara Landrum, in her own behalf and as natural guardian of her children, Laquila and Stacy Marie Wheeler; and Urban League Of Greater Miami, Inc., Appellants, v. Ruth D. Holmes; Gregory And Susan Watson on behalf of themselves and their minor children Sarah, Seth, and Sybil Watson; Rebecca Hale, on behalf of herself and her minor child, Jessica Dennis; John Rigsby, on behalf of himself and his minor children, Thaddeus and Porsche Rigsby; Queen E. Nelson, on behalf of herself and her minor grandchild, Ashley Wilson; Samuel Watts on behalf of himself and his minor children, Rondale, Reynard, and Rebecca Watts; Linda Lerner; Betsy H. Kaplan; Florida State Conference of Branches of NAACP; Citizens' Coalition for Public Schools; Florida Congress of Parents and Teachers (a/k/a "Florida PTA"); Florida Education Association/United, AFT AFL-CIO, a labor organization and Florida taxpayer; and Pat Tornillo, Jr., Andy Ford, Rita Moody, Mary Lopez, and Robert F. Lee, as Florida taxpayers, Appellees.
Decision Date03 October 2000
Docket Number No. 1D00-1150., No. 1D00-1121

767 So.2d 668

John Ellis "Jeb" BUSH, in his official capacity as Governor of the State of Florida and Chairman of the State Board of Education; Attorney General Robert A. Butterworth, Secretary of Education Tom Gallagher, Secretary of State Katherine Harris, Comptroller Robert Milligan, Commissioner of Insurance and State Treasurer Bill Nelson, Commissioner of Agriculture Bob Crawford, in their official capacities and as members of the State Board of Education; and Florida Department of Education, Appellants,
v.
Ruth D. HOLMES; Gregory and Susan Watson on behalf of themselves and their minor children Sarah, Seth, and Sybil Watson; Rebecca Hale, on behalf of herself and her minor child, Jessica Dennis; John Rigsby, on behalf of himself and his minor children, Thaddeus and Porsche Rigsby; Queen E. Nelson, on behalf of herself and her minor grandchild, Ashley Wilson; Samuel Watts on behalf of himself and his minor children, Rondale, Reynard, and Rebecca Watts; Linda Lerner; Betsy H. Kaplan; Florida State Conference of Branches of NAACP; Citizens' Coalition for Public Schools; The Florida Congress of Parents and Teachers (a/k/a "Florida PTA"); Florida Education Association/United, AFT AFL-CIO, a labor organization and Florida taxpayer; and Pat Tornillo, Jr., Andy Ford, Rita Moody, Mary Lopez, and Robert F. Lee, as Florida taxpayers, Appellees.
Brenda McShane, in her own behalf as natural guardian of her child, Brenisha McShane; Dermita Merkman, in her own behalf and as natural guardian of her child, Jessica Merkman; Tracy Richardson, in her own behalf and as natural guardian of her child, Khaliah Clanton; Sharon Mallety, in her own behalf and as natural guardian of her child, Jermall Bell; Barbara Landrum, in her own behalf and as natural guardian of her children, Laquila and Stacy Marie Wheeler; and Urban League Of Greater Miami, Inc., Appellants,
v.
Ruth D. Holmes; Gregory And Susan Watson on behalf of themselves and their minor children Sarah, Seth, and Sybil Watson; Rebecca Hale, on behalf of herself and her minor child, Jessica Dennis; John Rigsby, on behalf of himself and his minor children, Thaddeus and Porsche Rigsby; Queen E. Nelson, on behalf of herself and her minor grandchild, Ashley Wilson; Samuel Watts on behalf of himself and his minor children, Rondale, Reynard, and Rebecca Watts; Linda Lerner; Betsy H. Kaplan; Florida State Conference of Branches of NAACP; Citizens' Coalition for Public Schools; Florida Congress of Parents and Teachers (a/k/a "Florida PTA"); Florida Education Association/United, AFT AFL-CIO, a labor organization and Florida taxpayer; and Pat Tornillo, Jr., Andy Ford, Rita Moody, Mary Lopez, and Robert F. Lee, as Florida taxpayers, Appellees

Nos. 1D00-D00-1150.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District.

October 3, 2000.


767 So.2d 670
Frank R. Jimenez, Acting General Counsel, and Reginald J. Brown, Deputy General Counsel, Tallahassee; Charles T. Canady, Washington, D.C.; Carol A. Licko, Thomson, Muraro, Razook & Hart, P.A., Miami; and Jay P. Lefkowitz and Brett M. Kavanaugh of Kirkland & Ellis, Washington, D.C., for Appellants John Ellis "Jeb" Bush, et al

Thomas E. Warner, Solicitor General of Florida, Louis F. Hubener, Assistant Attorney General, James A. Peters, Special Counsel, and Richard A. Hixson, Deputy Solicitor General, Tallahassee, for Robert A. Butterworth, Attorney General of Florida.

Harry L. Hooper, General Counsel, Comptroller's Office, Tallahassee, for Robert Milligan, Florida Comptroller.

Michael Olenick, General Counsel, Tallahassee, for Florida Department of Education.

Kenneth W. Sukhia of Fowler, White, Gillen, Boggs, Villareal and Banker, P.A., Tallahassee; and Clint Bolick and Matthew Berry, Institute for Justice, Washington, D.C., for Appellants Brenda McShane, et al.

Frank A. Shepherd of Pacific Legal Foundation, Miami, for Amici Curiae Independent Voices for Better Education, Teachers for Better Education, Ira J. Paul, Robert N. Wright, and Pacific Legal Foundation; and Paul D. Clement, Jeffrey M. Telep, and Jeffrey S. Bucholtz of King & Spalding, Washington, D.C., for Amici Curiae The Center for Education Reform, American Education Reform Foundation, American Legislative Exchange Council, Children First CEO America, Education Leaders Council, Floridians for School Choice, "I Have a Dream" Foundation of Washington, D.C., and Mayor Bret Schundler, Republican Mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, and founder of Empower the People on behalf of Appellants Brenda McShane, et al.

Ronald G. Meyer of Meyer and Brooks, P.A., Tallahassee; Robert H. Chanin, John M. West, and Alice O'Brien of Bredhoff & Kaiser, P.L.L.C., Washington, D.C.; Andrew H. Kayton, American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Florida, Inc., Miami; Michael A. Sussman of National Association for Advancement of Colored People, New York; Julie Underwood, General Counsel of National School Boards Association, Virginia; Elliot M. Mincberg and Judith E. Schaeffer, of People for the American Way Foundation, Washington, D.C.; Marc D. Stern of American Jewish Congress, New York; Steven K. Green and Ayesha N. Khan, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Washington, D.C.; Steven R. Shapiro of American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, New York; Jeffrey P. Sinensky and Kara H. Stein of the American Jewish Committee, New York; Joan Peppard, Anti-Defamation League, Miami; and Elizabeth J. Coleman and Steven M. Freeman of Anti-Defamation League, New York, for Appellees Ruth D. Holmes, et al.

W. Dexter Douglass and Thomas P. Crapps of Douglass Law Firm, Tallahassee; Marvin E. Frankel and Justine A. Harris of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP, New York; David Strom of the American Federation of Teachers, Washington, D.C.; Pamela L. Cooper, General Counsel, Florida Teaching Profession-NEA, Tallahassee, for Appellees Florida Education Association/United, AFT AFLCIO, et al.

KAHN, J.

This is a consolidated appeal from a final judgment declaring section 229.0537, Florida Statutes (1999), "insofar as it establishes a program through which the State pays for certain students to attend private schools," facially unconstitutional under article IX, section 1 of the Florida Constitution.1 Section 229.0537 contains the provisions

767 So.2d 671
of Florida's Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP) and is part of a larger comprehensive legislative program addressing Florida's public schools. See Ch. 99-398, Laws of Fla. For the reasons explained below, we reverse and remand this case for further proceedings. In so doing, we emphasize that our holding addresses only the narrow issue of the facial constitutionality of the OSP under article IX, section 1 of the Florida Constitution

I. BACKGROUND

Section 229.0537 became law on June 21, 1999. See Ch. 99-398, § 78, at 4368, Laws of Fla. The next day, the appellees in this consolidated appeal, a group of parents, Florida citizens, and interest groups, filed a complaint alleging that section 229.0537 violated certain constitutional provisions: (1) article I, section 3 of the Florida Constitution2; (2) article IX, section 1 of the Florida Constitution; (3) article IX, section 6 of the Florida Constitution3; and (4) the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. On July 29, 1999, the Florida Education Association and others (FEA), filed a complaint challenging the constitutionality of section 229.0537 on the same four grounds raised by the appellees.4 The complaints named as defendants Governor John Ellis "Jeb" Bush and cabinet members, in their official capacities and as members of the State Board of Education, in addition to the Florida Department of Education ("State defendants").

The FEA filed a motion to consolidate the two cases and the trial court granted this motion. A group of parents and guardians of students receiving opportunity scholarships ("the parents"), moved to intervene in both cases, and the trial court also granted these motions. The parents thereafter moved to dismiss the article IX, section 1 claims for lack of standing, justiciability, and failure to state a claim. Following a hearing, the trial court denied these motions.

The trial court held a case management conference on December 2, 1999. The court explained that the purpose of the conference was for the parties to identify "the issues that would require the presentation of evidence to resolve those issues and those issues that dealt with the challenge of the constitutionality of the statute on its face." After hearing arguments from the parties, the court deferred consideration of whether the statute was unconstitutional under the religion clauses in the Florida and U.S. constitutions. The court did decide, however, that it could consider the argument that section 229.0537 violated article IX, section 1 on its face because, in the trial court's view, this challenge did not require an evidentiary basis. Accordingly, on December 8, 1999, the trial court entered an order setting

767 So.2d 672
a final hearing for February 24, 2000, and directing the parties to file briefs on "the issue of the facial constitutionality of the Opportunity Scholarship Program, Fla. Stat., Section 229.0537, under Article IX, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution...."

On December 30, 1999, the plaintiffs filed separate briefs and attachments. On January 28, 2000, the State defendants filed Objections to Final Hearing Procedure or, in the Alternative, Motion to Strike Plaintiffs' Briefs. The State defendants argued for the first time that the trial court's summary resolution of the facial constitutionality of the statute "is on the brink of an abyss." The State defendants also argued that the plaintiffs "present myriad factual arguments masked as legal arguments."

On February 4, 2000, the plaintiffs filed responses challenging the timeliness of the defendants' objections, and on February 7, 2000, the trial court conducted a hearing on the objections. The...

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8 practice notes
  • Bush v. Holmes, No. 1D02-3160
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 12, 2004
    ...funds for private school education, particularly in circumstances where the Legislature finds such use is necessary." Bush v. Holmes, 767 So.2d 668, 675 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000)(footnote omitted). Specifically declining to consider the other constitutional arguments raised by the plaintiffs, thi......
  • Bush v. Holmes, Case No. 1D02-3160 (FL 8/16/2004), Case No. 1D02-3160.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • August 16, 2004
    ...funds for private school education, particularly in circumstances where the Legislature finds such use is necessary." Bush v. Holmes, 767 So. 2d 668, 675 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000)(footnote omitted). Specifically declining to consider the other constitutional arguments raised by the plaintiffs, th......
  • Bush v. Holmes, No. SC04-2323.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 5, 2006
    ...funds for private school education, particularly in circumstances where the Legislature finds such use is necessary." Bush v. Holmes, 767 So.2d 668, 675 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) (Holmes I) (footnote omitted). The First District declined to address the other constitutional issues raised and reman......
  • Morris v. State, No. 1D99-4286.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 29, 2001
    ...of the court that clearly are recognized as ones of exceptional importance, but were not considered en banc. See Bush v. Holmes, 767 So.2d 668 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) (reversing trial court judgment by determining opportunity scholarship program is facially constitutional); State v. North Flori......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Bush v. Holmes, Case No. 1D02-3160 (FL 8/16/2004), Case No. 1D02-3160.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • August 16, 2004
    ...funds for private school education, particularly in circumstances where the Legislature finds such use is necessary." Bush v. Holmes, 767 So. 2d 668, 675 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000)(footnote omitted). Specifically declining to consider the other constitutional arguments raised by the plaintiffs, th......
  • Bush v. Holmes, No. 1D02-3160
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • November 12, 2004
    ...funds for private school education, particularly in circumstances where the Legislature finds such use is necessary." Bush v. Holmes, 767 So.2d 668, 675 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000)(footnote omitted). Specifically declining to consider the other constitutional arguments raised by the plaintiffs, thi......
  • Bush v. Holmes, No. SC04-2323.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • January 5, 2006
    ...funds for private school education, particularly in circumstances where the Legislature finds such use is necessary." Bush v. Holmes, 767 So.2d 668, 675 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) (Holmes I) (footnote omitted). The First District declined to address the other constitutional issues raised and reman......
  • Morris v. State, No. 1D99-4286.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • May 29, 2001
    ...of the court that clearly are recognized as ones of exceptional importance, but were not considered en banc. See Bush v. Holmes, 767 So.2d 668 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) (reversing trial court judgment by determining opportunity scholarship program is facially constitutional); State v. North Flori......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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