What is the true origin of Florida’s Privacy Right adopted in 1980?  ​



During the summer of 1989, I was a first-year law student clerking in the summer months for attorney Ken Connor, my mentor and good friend, who at the time was President of Florida Right to Life. He asked me to write an amicus brief to the Florida Supreme Court on behalf of a bipartisan group of legislators to defend the parental consent before abortion law that was passed earlier that year.


The focus of the brief was the origin and purpose of Article 1, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution, our Privacy Clause, which was enacted in 1980. I spent hundreds of hours researching this issue in the state archives. I listened to every debate, read every analysis, and read every transcript. The word abortion never appeared once in the entire record of the 1977-78 Constitution Revision Commission, a unique body that only meets every 20 years in Florida.


The then very liberal Florida Supreme Court struck down the parental consent law requiring a parent’s consent before an abortion could be performed on a minor. Since 1989, we have been living with this judge-made case, our state version of Roe vs. Wade, which grants a fundamental right to abortion in Florida. It was called In Re TW, a Minor. It is a horrible decision, poorly decided, and we have been praying and working for its reversal for 34 years now!


In 2017-2018, I served on the Florida Constitution Revision Commission and focused most of my efforts on this express state privacy right. Appointed by then-House Speaker Richard Corcoran, this body meets only once every twenty years. I proposed an amendment to clarify that the privacy clause was intended to be for informational privacy and not a right to abortion. Unfortunately, the leadership of this Republican-controlled body barely let my proposal be heard, much less considered for a vote on the floor.


This Friday, September 8, 2023, the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee will hear a case involving whether Florida’s Privacy Right language in the state constitution gives the right to a mother to destroy her unborn child through an abortion. The case will review the bill signed by Governor DeSantis last year, which protects pre-born children capable of feeling pain after 15 weeks of pregnancy. It will be a packed house in the courtroom, but I will be there in person. You can watch it online HERE at 9:00 a.m. EST this Friday morning.


Florida now has the most conservative, most textual, and most restrained state appellate court in the country. We feel confident that we will get a good outcome in this case. But nothing is for sure until it happens. Even though I know all but one Justice personally, you just never know. If the court does decide that there is no right to abortion in the state constitution and reverses itself in the 1989 In Re TW a Minor case, then this will also trigger the effective date of the Heartbeat Bill, which was passed this year. The Heartbeat Bill would protect an unborn child after six weeks of pregnancy when there is a detectible heartbeat.


I have worked my entire professional life for this moment. Because of my expertise in this area of law, I wrote a Law Review on the topic with my friend and colleague, attorney Jake Phillips. A law review is a peer-reviewed journal analyzing some area of the law. I am proud to say that that article was published by my alma mater, Cumberland School of Law at Samford University. I am enclosing a digital copy of the article HERE. This is a lengthy and detailed treatment of the topic, which will only be appreciated by academics and other lawyers. If you are interested, it is a fascinating read.


I also wrote a very condensed version of the article in an Op-Ed that appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat, which can be read HERE.


Please pray that each member of the Florida Supreme Court would be clear-minded in the outcome of this case. The current members of the court can be seen HERE.


Finally, thank you for your support and prayers for the little ones without a voice, all made in God’s image. Together, we are their voice.

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