Dog racing supporters challenge amendment constitutionality


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s greyhound racing industry is asking a federal judge to revoke an amendment that voters approved last year banning dog racing in Florida, saying the process was unconstitutional. 

Support Working Animals Inc. and eight greyhound trainers, kennels, transporters and suppliers filed a federal lawsuit in West Palm Beach to overturn the ban. It alleges that the industry will lose businesses and income, along with their heritage and identity. 

A rival group that supported the ban called the lawsuit “a slap in the face to every voter” and predicted it will be rejected. 

A tentative date for a trial was set for June 8 by U.S. District Judge Donald M. Middlebrooks.

Under the ban, all tracks must close by January 2021. The lawsuit was filed just under one year after 69 percent of Florida voters agreed to abolish greyhound racing.

The lawsuit alleges procedural problems with the amendment, which was brought to ballot through the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission rather than through Florida’s Legislature. It said under the process that “the majority exercised its unlimited power over a minority group thereby forever depriving them of making a living by the use of their own property in an industry successfully regulated in the State of Florida for almost an entire century.”

The lawsuit also alleges that the amendment “creates a mysterious new set of rights” for dogs, because it bans racing dogs but not other animals.

The president of the plaintiff’s group, Jennifer Newcome, said the ban will directly affect 3,000 people in Florida and indirectly affect thousands more.

Pictured above: Greyhound dogs sprint around a turn during a race at the Palm Beach Kennel Club in West Palm Beach. The state voted 69 to 31 percent to pass Amendment 13, which bans the sport beginning on Jan. 1, 2021. AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

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  1. It will be proven in the case that Grey2k and all involved, Senator Tom Lee, Pam Bondi and others LIED to the CRC to get his Amendment on the ballot. Thats the reason the opposition wants it thrown out. The lies are in the PUBLIC transcripts of said public meetings and are clear as day. That is another reason the State says they do not want to defend against the suit. The CRC was rigged by Lee, Grey2k, and others before the public hearing even started. Sorry, but that is NOT how to change an Amendment in the State Constitution.

  2. Also a few corrections to the story. The “industry” is NOT behind the suit. I am one of 10 founding members of SWA and I do not derive one penny from the greyhound racing industry, nor do 3 or 4 of the other founders who are all adopters. We are not backed by the “industry”, we are a collection of adopters, trainers, a few small time owners, a few big time owners, some farms, and other non “industry” affiliated racing fans. Our member base is as diverse as it gets.

  3. Steve, the process was followed properly and the Florida Supreme Court has already ruled on the appropriateness and constitutionality after objections were raised beforehand. With 69+% of the voters behind this, AND the track owners who want you gone, AND the fact that most tracks have already closed early, why are you spending that dried-up donation money on a moot issue? Feeding lawyers?