Equal Justice For All

  • by: Carol Tucker
  • target: http://judiciary.senate.gov/about/subcommittees/constitution.cfm
We, the undersigned, honour the spirit of the founding fathers and the creation of the US Constitution, and hereby urge the introduction of a Constitutional Amendment specifically stating that ALL Americans, regardless of the state in which they reside, are guaranteed "access to the courts without sale, denial, or delay," expressly rendering unconstitutional legislation such as that passed by Florida in 2004, requiring the indigent to pay court fees.

The First Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits limitations to the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, and the Florida Constitution guarantees all citizens the right to access the courts without SALE, DENIAL, or DELAY.

As state and local budgets feel the pinch of the economic crisis, public services suffer everywhere, perhaps nowhere more than in our courts.  The perfect storm of foreclosures has resulted in an exponential increase in the already crushing burden of civil and criminal matters, while the supply of public defenders and legal aid services shrinks.  As citizens face decreased incomes, job losses, staggering medical expenses, and potential homelessness, they find that they are required to pay increased filing fees when they seek justice through the courts.  The poorest and most vulnerable among us are inevitably the most cruelly affected.  Meanwhile, the overloaded legal system becomes slower and more cumbersome than ever before, with the passage of time as always on the side of the wealthy and powerful.  

Add to this nationwide scenario the scandalous fact that Florida remains the only state in the union that does not waive court fees for indigent citizens.  For the individual seeking an insurance payment from a powerful for-profit corporation, for the parent seeking a court-appointed attorney, for the battered woman seeking to free herself and her children from domestic violence, the paths to recovery are being systematically choked off by a system that does not care to serve its neediest clients.

It is crucial for Florida's 2004 unconstitutional legislation to be repealed (but Florida "slawmakers" are too spineless to do so). The government protects profit-driven corporations, steals from the poor, then keeps us from pursuing justice through the courts, a basic Constitutional right. Since Florida "slawmakers" will not repeal the legislation, as many of them stand to profit by it, America needs a Constitutional Amendment to prevent any state from ever again passing unconstitutional legislation. The Federal government has become lackadaisical, turning a blind eye to states' injustices, and THIS one is an embarrassment to the United States of America in the eyes of the rest of the world and exposes Florida for the corrupt state that it has sadly become.

The State of Florida must be required to extend services to the indigent in a manner that is free of fees, daunting bureaucratic red tape, and the arbitrary discretion of court clerks.  Such a system of justice for sale to the highest bidder is unconscionable anywhere in a civilized country.
We, the undersigned, honour the spirit of the founding fathers and the creation of the US Constitution, and hereby urge the introduction of a Constitutional Amendment specifically stating that ALL Americans, regardless of the state in which they reside, are guaranteed "access to the courts without sale, denial, or delay," expressly rendering unconstitutional legislation such as that passed by Florida in 2004, requiring the indigent to pay court fees.

As state and local budgets feel the pinch of the economic crisis, public services suffer everywhere, perhaps nowhere more than in our courts.  The perfect storm of foreclosures has resulted in an exponential increase in the already crushing burden of civil and criminal matters, while the supply of public defenders and legal aid services shrinks.  As citizens face decreased incomes, job losses, staggering medical expenses, and potential homelessness, they find that they are required to pay increased filing fees when they seek justice through the courts.  The poorest and most vulnerable among us are inevitably the most cruelly affected.  Meanwhile, the overloaded legal system becomes slower and more cumbersome than ever before, with the passage of time as always on the side of the wealthy and powerful.  

Add to this nationwide scenario the scandalous fact that Florida remains the only state in the union that does not waive court fees for indigent citizens.  For the individual seeking an insurance payment from a powerful for-profit corporation, for the parent seeking a court-appointed attorney, for the battered woman seeking to free herself and her children from domestic violence, the paths to recovery are being systematically choked off by a system that does not care to serve its neediest clients.

The state of Florida must be required to extend services to the indigent in a manner that is free of fees, daunting bureaucratic red tape, and the arbitrary discretion of court clerks.  Such a system of justice for sale to the highest bidder is unconscionable anywhere in a civilized country.
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