Mary E. Adkins
Making Modern Florida
How the Spirit of Reform Shaped a New State Constition
University Press of Florida 2016
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in LawNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Public PolicyNew Books Network May 31, 2017 Ian J. Drake
Mary E. Adkins has written Making Modern Florida: How the Spirit of Reform Shaped a New State Constitution (University Press of Florida, 2016), an account of the reformation of the Florida state constitution in the 1960s. Adkins reviews the history of the state’s constitutions since it was first incorporated into the United States in the 1840s. Yet, she concentrates on the reform efforts begun during World War II and culminating in a new constitution in 1968. Adkins reviews the political interests that pushed for a new constitution, from the League of Women Voters to the new residents in the emergent southern coasts of Florida in the 1960s. Adkins reviews the process of reforming a constitution that was rooted in the traditional rotten borough politics of 19th-century Florida. She analyzes the impact of U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the early 1960s that forced states to reapportion their legislatures, contending that Florida’s districts were so malapportioned that without the Court’s decisions there might not have been any constitutional revision. Adkins also discusses today’s constitutional revision process, which is ongoing every 20 years and is occurring in 2017.
Florida’s political context has always been an amalgam of traditional Southern politics and the emergent commercial and tourism-based economy of a coastal state. Adkin’s book illuminates how these conditions produced political conflict and constitutional change.
Ian J. Drake is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Law at Montclair State University. His scholarly interests include American legal and constitutional history and political theory.