The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida (ACLUFL) today announced that Rep. Scott Randolph (D-Orlando) received the organization? most recent ?efender of Freedom?award for the week which ended today, April 1, 2011.
Rep. Randolph earned the award in part for his comments in debate on the floor of the Florida House of Representatives in which he correctly and accurately contrasted the Legislature? focus on freeing businesses from government interference while seeking to impose new restrictions on personal freedom and privacy.
Speaking directly on the flood of proposals to restrict a woman? right to constitutionally protected reproductive health and concurrent efforts to deregulate Florida businesses, Randolph said his wife should, ?ncorporate her uterus?because, as a corporation, lawmakers may actually reduce government regulation of it.
According to a story first reported by the St. Petersburg Times, the Speaker of the Florida House, Rep. Dean Cannon (R-Winter Park), in response to Randolph? comments, warned Democratic lawmakers to refrain from referencing body parts in debate.
?hen the Speaker applies direct pressure on the content of what elected Representatives can say in debate on the House floor, it freezes free speech and handcuffs democracy,?said Danielle Prendergast, ACLUFL Director of Public Policy. ?he Constitution protects everyone? right to speak out in political debate and if limits are placed on debate by lawmakers in open legislative session, then where is political debate safe??
The warning about the use of body parts contrasted sharply with a lengthy debate last Tuesday, March 22, in the Health & Human Services Quality Subcommittee where members spent several minutes discussing ?rans-vaginal?ultrasounds and other medical procedures.
?t makes you wonder if the House is squeamish about medical terms, women or just didn? like the message being sent about their priorities,?Prendergast said. ?o matter the reason, restricting debate and political speech in the people? House is not acceptable and we strongly defend the rights of all Representatives to share political views in debate without fear of reprisal?
In addition to his right to engage in honest and open debate in the House of Representatives, Rep. Randolph has repeatedly spoken and voted against several proposals which would limit personal freedom, privacy rights access to legal, personal medical care. Specific bills Randolph has opposed include: HB 1397 and 1127 which impose new obstacles to legal medical care and HB 353 which would violate personal privacy thorough mandatory drug tests without suspicion of wrongdoing.
?ep. Randolph has been a consistent and forceful voice in protecting personal freedom,?Prendergast said. ?hether it? access to medical care, personal privacy or free speech, Rep. Randolph has been a reliable supporter and he deserves the thanks of all Floridians.?
The Defender of Freedom award will be presented weekly during the Florida Legislative Session to the lawmaker or other leader who displays public courage and defends constitutional freedoms in public policy. The two previous winners were Rep. Carlos Trujillo (R-Miami), Senator Mike Bennett (R-Bradenton) and Rep. Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg).