State and federal courts in 2024 are set to be abuzz with significant legal cases in Florida. As we enter the new year, here are 10 key legal issues that will demand attention:
ABORTION: In September of last year, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments challenging a state law from 2022 that prohibited abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. If the court upholds this law, it may also pave the way for a six-week abortion limit that was passed in 2023. Furthermore, the court is expected to make a decision on whether a proposed abortion-rights constitutional amendment will be included on the 2024 ballot. Attorney General Ashley Moody is urging the court to reject this proposal.
DISNEY: A legal battle has emerged in both state and federal courts involving Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Governor Ron DeSantis’ administration, and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. The dispute revolves around allegations that the state unlawfully retaliated against Disney due to the company’s opposition to a controversial education law enacted in 2022. While a federal judge recently heard arguments in the retaliation case, a separate lawsuit is still pending in Orange County circuit court.
FSU ATHLETICS: A closely watched case in college athletics has unfolded, with Florida State University filing a lawsuit in Leon County circuit court against the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). After being a member of the ACC for over three decades, Florida State alleges that the conference has consistently undermined its members’ revenue opportunities. The focus of the case centers around a media-rights deal and the high costs associated with leaving the conference.
GAMBLING: The Florida Supreme Court is currently reviewing a challenge to a gambling agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe, which allowed the tribe to offer online sports betting throughout the state. Two pari-mutuel companies argue that this deal violates a state constitutional amendment from 2018 that limited casino gambling. Additionally, these companies may seek the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court to block the sports betting under federal law.
GUNS: Nearly six years after Florida legislators passed a law preventing the sale of rifles and other long guns to individuals under the age of 21, a Second Amendment challenge to this law is now pending at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In July of last year, the full appeals court agreed to hear the case after a three-judge panel upheld the age restriction. However, the progress of this case has been effectively halted as the U.S. Supreme Court deliberates on a similar case in Texas regarding gun restrictions.
MARIJUANA: In November, the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments regarding a proposed constitutional amendment that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana. Although supporters of the amendment have submitted enough petition signatures to secure a spot on the 2024 ballot, they still require the Supreme Court’s approval of the proposed ballot wording. Attorney General Ashley Moody has voiced her opposition to the proposal, urging the court to reject it.
NURSING HOME KIDS: In January, a panel from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a decade-long battle between Florida and the U.S. Department of Justice concerning the care of children with complex medical needs in nursing homes. A federal district judge ruled in favor of the Justice Department, ordering Florida’s Medicaid program to take further action to assist children in living with their families or in their communities.
REDISTRICTING: With the 2024 elections on the horizon, both the Florida Supreme Court and a federal-court panel are currently reviewing separate challenges by voting-rights groups to a congressional redistricting plan championed by Governor DeSantis in 2022. These cases primarily revolve around the overhaul of a North Florida district that historically elected Black Democrat Al Lawson. One of the cases was upheld by the state’s 1st District Court of Appeal.
SOCIAL MEDIA: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to address a First Amendment dispute concerning a 2021 Florida law that imposed restrictions on major social media companies. This law was enacted after Twitter (now known as X) and Facebook blocked former President Donald Trump from their platforms. Tech-industry groups swiftly challenged the law, leading to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholding most of a district judge’s preliminary injunction against it.
TRANSGENDER LAWS: Following the enactment of laws and regulations targeting transgender individuals in Florida, a series of legal challenges are currently unfolding in federal courts. These cases include challenges to the state’s prohibition of Medicaid coverage for transgender people seeking hormone therapy and puberty blockers, restrictions on treatments for minors, limitations on treatments for adults, and a law designed to prevent children from attending sexually explicit drag shows and similar events.
As the year progresses, these legal issues will undoubtedly shape the legal landscape of Florida, with far-reaching implications for the state and its residents.
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