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Alliance Alert

Jul 10, 2008

ADF-allied attorneys set to back Florida fair funding referendum


ADF-allied attorneys set to back Florida fair funding referendum

Court grants motion to intervene in support of proposed constitutional amendment that would prevent religious discrimination in public programs

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A Florida court granted a motion to intervene Thursday that was filed by Alliance Defense Fund allied attorneys on behalf of five religious charities in Florida. The goal of the intervention is to allow Florida charities to have a say in whether to end public funding discrimination against religious individuals and groups.

“Voters should have a say on whether faith-based charities should receive public funds based on the merit of their charitable works rather than being denied funding simply because they are religious,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gary McCaleb. “Those who don’t want the people to have a say on this measure apparently have something to fear from the democratic process.”

The Florida Taxation and Budget Reform Commission, which periodically reviews tax laws, has two proposals on the state’s November ballot. If passed, Ballot Initiative 7 would repeal Article 1, Section 3, of the Florida Constitution, which bars individuals and other entities from participating in public programs solely because of their religious nature. A second initiative, Ballot Initiative 9, would amend the state constitution to allow limited state support for private education costs.

ADF-allied attorney Nathan Adams IV, senior counsel at Holland & Knight, LLP, filed the motion to intervene on behalf of the Florida Catholic Conference, Mercy Hospital, Friends of Lubavitch of Florida, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami, and the Association of Christian Schools International. FCC is a non-profit corporation which comprises all active Roman Catholic bishops in the state. ACSI represents nearly 400 private Christian schools in Florida. Friends of Lubavitch supports private Jewish schools, and Mercy Hospital is a Catholic facility providing millions of dollars in charitable work to the community. The groups intervened as defendants in a lawsuit that is intended to remove the initiatives from the ballot.

“Florida reaps great benefit from religious charities that serve the poorest of society,” said Florida Catholic Conference Executive Director Michael McCarron. “Florida’s constitution should not discriminate against religious groups when it comes to such funding, which is not used for religious purposes and greatly benefits communities.”

A copy of the motion to intervene filed in the Circuit Court, Second Judicial Circuit, in and for Leon County, in Ford v. Browning is available at

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.

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