Jackson v. Consolidated Government of City of Jacksonville, 37785

Citation225 So.2d 497
Decision Date22 July 1969
Docket NumberNo. 37785,37785
PartiesRobert P. JACKSON, W. T. Bright, Joseph D. Buffkin, Fletcher Morgan, Ellis R. Warren and Charles G. Tankersley, Appellants, v. The CONSOLIDATED GOVERNMENT OF the CITY OF JACKSONVILLE, Appellee.
CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida

C. Ray Greene, Jr., Jacksonville, for appellants.

William L. Durden, Jacksonville, David U. Tumin and Charles W. Arnold, Jr., for appellee.

ROBERTS, Justice.

Appellants, plaintiffs below, have applied directly to this court for review of a declaratory judgment upholding against attack on various constitutional grounds, discussed hereafter, the so-called Jacksonville Consolidation Charter. We have jurisdiction of the direct appeal under Section 4, Article V, Florida Constitution, F.S.A.

The case was heard by the Circuit Court of the Fourth Judicial Circuit of Florida. In a well considered opinion authored by the Honorable Thomas A. Larkin, each ground of the attack made by plaintiffs was discussed and disposed of, clearly and succinctly, under impeccable authority and with flawless logic. Instead of re-stating the findings and conclusions as set forth in Judge Larkin's opinion, we will give it the recognition it deserves by quoting from it at length, with approval. His opinion, with deletions in the interest of brevity, follows:

'Plaintiffs individually, and as Duval County Commission and Duval County Budget Commission members and purported Democratic nominees for election thereto instituted this action contesting the existence and constitutional validity of Article VIII, § 9, Florida Constitution, hereinafter called the Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment, and Chapters 67--1320, 67--1535 and 67--1547, Laws of Florida, 1967, hereinafter referred to as the Jacksonville Consolidation Charter, which Charter was enacted by the Legislature and adopted by the electorate of Duval County pursuant to the said Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment. Plaintiffs contend in substance that the Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment to the Florida Constitution has heretofore been repealed by a later conflicting amendment to Article VIII, § 5, thereof, or, in the alternative, that the Jacksonville Consolidation Charter is unconstitutional and invalid in its entirety for a variety of reasons which shall be hereafter discussed. * * *

'Purported Repeal of Article VIII, Sec. 9

'Plaintiffs first contend that the Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment no longer exists, because it was impliedly repealed by the later amendment of Article VIII, § 5, a general section which relates to county commissioners.

'The Legislature specifically relied on the Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment in passing the Charter. If that section had previously been repealed, it was ineffective to authorize the Legislature to enact the Charter. Consequently, this issue is the most crucial one in this litigation.

'In determining this question, it is helpful and material to consider the setting in which the Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment was adopted in 1934. Since the original publication of the Constitution of 1885, Article VIII, § 1 thereof has provided that the state shall be divided into political subdivisions called counties and Article VIII, § 5, thereof has provided that there shall be five county commissioners in each county. An amendment to Section 5 in 1900 permitted the county commissioners themselves to divide their respective counties into five commissioners' districts Consequently, the passage of the Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment in 1934 authorized the alteration of the existing scheme with respect to counties and county commissioners only in Duval County which was its limited field of operation. Its apparent purpose was to permit a partial or complete departure from such existing scheme within Duval County. Article VIII, § 11, was added to the Constitution in 1942 and made certain specific provisions with respect to the County Commissioners of Dade County, particularly concerning their terms of office and which varied from the provisions of Article VIII, § 5, with respect thereto. Section 5 was itself amended in 1944 primarily with respect to the county commissioners' terms of office and such amendment specifically provided that it would not affect the previous amendment relative to Dade County concerning relatively the same changes. These subsequent amendments to Article VIII, § 5, and Article VIII, § 11, did not alter the basic scheme with respect to counties and county commissioners so as to cause the Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment to be anymore inconsistent therewith than it already was.

'Plaintiff contends that the amendment to Article VIII, § 5, was a drastic amendment and that its effect was to repeal the Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment in its entirety. Needless to say, it is possible for one constitutional provision to repeal another, and there is no doubt that this may be done by implication. A new constitutional provision prevails over prior provisions of the Constitution (a) if it specifically repeals them or (b) if it cannot be harmonized with them. Nevertheless, it is settled that implied repeal of one constitutional provision by another is not favored, and every reasonable effort will be made to give effect to both provisions. Unless the later amendment expressly repeals or purports to modify an existing provision, the old and new should stand and operate together unless the clear intent of the later provision is thereby defeated. Board of Public Instruction(s) of Polk County v. Board of Commissioners of Polk County, 58 Fla. 391, 50 So. 574 (1909).

'The amendment to Article VIII, § 5, did not specifically repeal any other section of the Constitution. Its terms are general. It deals only with county government. It has no relation at all to the special provision authorizing the Legislature to create a consolidated municipal government in Duval County. It is difficult to conceive that the Legislature or the people could have intended, merely by a small alteration of the powers and the terms of county commissioners, to wipe ont the entire constitutional section authorizing a consolidated municipal government in Duval County.

'Wilson v. Crews, (1948) (160 Fla. 169) 34 So.2d 114, cited by plaintiffs, does not hold to the contrary. In that case the later amendment not only involved the same subject matter but also the same section of the Constitution. There the court found in the later provision 'an intent to revise the fundamental law governing the establishment of Justice Districts.'

'In some respects the question raised here is analogous to the question of whether a later general law repeals a prior special act. It is settled that a general act does not repeal or modify an existing special act unless the general act is a complete revision of the whole subject or unless the two acts are so irreconcilable as to clearly demonstrate a legislative intention to repeal. Sanders v. Howell, 73 Fla. 563, (74) 76 So. 802 (1917); Stewart v. DeLand-Lake Helen Special Road and Bridge District, (1916) 71 Fla. 158, 71 So. 42; (City of) Apalachicola v. State, (1927) 93 Fla. 921, 112 So. 618. By the same reasoning a later general provision of the Constitution does not impliedly repeal a prior one of special application unless the two provisions are utterly inconsistent and repugnant to each other.

'The two provisions under consideration here are entirely consistent and easily reconciled with one another. The Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment is not self-executing. Until it was implemented by legislative action, Duval County retained its county government and was governed by Article VIII, § 5, as that section existed both before and after 1944. The Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment is a special provision applying only to Duval County and giving the Legislature power at any time to consolidate the county and the cities within it into a municipality.

'Plaintiffs' original argument in favor of a contrary intent was based on the proviso at the end of the 1944 amendment. This proviso made it clear that the amendment did not affect Article VIII, § 11, which plaintiffs' complaint describes as 'the Dade County Home Rule Charter Provision'. Plaintiffs say that the lack of a similar provision, saving the Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment, indicates an intention to repeal it. The fallacy of this argument is apparent from an examination of Article VIII, § 11, as it existed in 1944. While that section now provides for home rule in Dade County, it contained no such provision in 1944. At that time, it related solely to commissioners districts and the term of office of Dade County Commissioners. Thus, it dealt with exactly the same subject matter as Article VIII, § 5. Since the two sections had a common subject, a saving clause was needed when Section 5 was amended in 1944. Since the amendment to Article VIII, § 5, has no relation to the Jacksonville Consolidation section, no saving clause was required. The absence of a saving clause does not show an intention to repeal the Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment any more than any other unrelated section of the Constitution. It was not until 1956, some twelve years later, that the Dade County home rule provisions were incorporated into Article VIII, § 11.

'I conclude, therefore, that the Jacksonville Consolidation Amendment was not repealed and that it was effective to authorize the Legislature to enact a charter in accordance with its terms.'

The opinion of Judge Larkin then discusses in considerable detail the provisions of the Charter, the consolidation plan, and the powers and duties of the consolidated government. Since these are set out In toto in the statutes constituting the Charter, Sections 67--1320, 67--1535 and 67--1547, supra, we will omit the summary and quote only the conclusion:

'The manifest intention of the Legislature in enacting the Charter was to merge all of the former governments...

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