Officials debate two proposed amendments


They went back and forth, arguing their points of view and answering questions for the audience. The only thing the two could agree on was that UNF was the perfect setting for the debate, they said.

Adam Guillette, state director of the Florida chapter of Americans for Prosperity, and Ken Hurley, Greater Jacksonville American Civil Liberties Union president, debated formally proposed Florida constitutional Seventh and Ninth Amendments Sept. 15 in the Fine Arts Center.

“I hope we gave the audience some good information and entertainment along the way,” Hurley said. “Amendments Seven and Nine were struck down with good reason. We wanted to argue our point of view and deliver a little civics education along the way.”

Guillette’s goal was similar, but also hoped to increase membership of the UNF chapter of American for Prosperity, he said.

Approximately 75 people watched the two debate, which was a featured event of Constitution Week 2008, sponsored by the American Democracy Project.

Both the Seventh and Ninth Amendments were removed from the November ballot Sept. 3, following a Florida Supreme Court decision and ACLU lawsuit, according to the Supreme Court of Florida’s final

The Seventh Amendment focused on private religious schools, while the Ninth Amendment focused solely on private schools.

Both amendments fought for the option of a voucher program in the current school system with hopes to improve the sub-par quality of education students are currently receiving in Florida, Guillette said.

“Moving to a new home isn’t always an option, so if a family isn’t happy with the level of education their child is receiving, they can’t do anything about it,” Guillette said. “It’s a matter of choice.”

Hurley and the ACLU argued the proposals would conflict with the separation of church and state.

After more than an hour, they reached no final conclusion, and both warned that the topic was far from over.

“It was enjoyable and good to get the opinions with out people hiking around the issue,” said Mike Wohlamn, an active duty U.S. Navy employee who was in attendance. “The proposal will now be delayed a few years, but it’s great to see people still enthusiastic about it.”

E-mail Josh Salman at [email protected]