INSTITUTE INDEX: Courts in Arkansas and Florida kick reforms off the ballot

Protestors rallied for gun violence prevention measures in Tampa, Florida, during the 2018 March for Our Lives events following the school shooting in Parkland. Earlier this year the Florida Supreme Court blocked a ballot measure to ban assault weapons. (Photo by Joseph Brent via Flickr.)

Of the 18 states that allow citizens to put amendments to their state constitution on the ballot, number in the South: 3*
Date on which the Florida Supreme Court blocked from this year's ballot a citizen-sponsored constitutional amendment to ban assault weapons: 6/4/2020
Signatures collected by supporters of an amendment to open up Florida's electricity market to competition, before it was blocked by the same court earlier this year: 577,861
Since he took office in 2019, number of justices Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has appointed to the seven-member Florida Supreme Court: 5
Of the five justices appointed by DeSantis, number affiliated with the far-right Federalist Society: 5
Date on which the Florida Supreme Court ruled that DeSantis violated the state constitution with his most recent high court appointment: 8/27/2020
Minimum hourly wage in Florida by 2026, if voters approve an amendment on the ballot this year: $15
Amount raised by the sponsors of the minimum wage amendment: almost $5 million
Money raised from a single donor by the sponsor of a Florida amendment to require that citizen amendments be approved by voters in two consecutive elections: $9 million
Under a 2019 Florida law that put up more hurdles to citizen amendments, percent of voters that now must approve amendments for them to be added to the state constitution: 60
In Arkansas, year in which the legislature passed a law requiring people who collect signatures for citizen amendments to pass state and federal background checks conducted by state police — even though the state police lack the capacity to conduct background checks that would show convictions under federal laws: 2013
Number of ballot measures blocked by the Arkansas Supreme Court's conservative majority for violating that law because sponsors certified only that their signature gatherers had "acquired" background checks and not that they had "passed" them — even though there is no such "passing" designation: 2
Signatures collected by supporters of an amendment to create a nonpartisan redistricting commission before it was blocked by the Arkansas Supreme Court because of the background check issue: 150,000
Date on which the Arkansas League of Women Voters sued Secretary of State John Thurston (R) over the legality of the background check provision: 9/2/2020
If Arkansas voters approve Issue 3, which was put on the ballot by the Republican-controlled legislature and approved by the state Supreme Court, number of Arkansas' 75 counties in which amendment sponsors would have to gather at least half of their signatures: 45
Number of counties where they're now required to gather at least half of their signatures: 15

Provision of the Arkansas Constitution that prohibits laws "in any manner interfering with the freedom of the people in procuring" signatures for amendments: Article 5, Section 1
* Arkansas, Florida, and Mississippi, though Mississippi's requirements are so burdensome that it's virtually impossible.
(Click on figure to go to source.)