Florida’s Supreme Court is officially a top election issue

Florida’s Supreme Court is officially a top election issue for DeSantis and Gillum 

Excerpt: Gov. Rick Scott will not get to appoint three justices to the Florida Supreme Court on his final day in office, the high court ruled Monday, a decision that raises the stakes on the governor’s race with the winner possibly deciding the ideological balance of the court for years to come. 

The terse, unsigned order from the court ruled that Scott exceeded his authority last month when he ordered the Judicial Nominating Commission to begin seeking applications and interviewing candidates and to submit nominees by Nov. 10. 

“As the JNC is an independent body, it is not bound by Governor Scott’s deadlines,” the order stated. 

Under the state constitution, justices must retire by the time they reach 70 but can serve out a six-year term if they turn 70 more than halfway through the term. That means justices Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince must leave the bench by midnight on Jan. 7, the same moment Scott’s second term ends. 

Those three justices make up the bulk of the 4-3 liberal majority on the court. If Republican Ron DeSantis wins the governor’s race, he’ll be able to flip the court to a solid conservative majority. If Democrat Andrew Gillum wins, he could possibly preserve the liberal majority. 

Scott has previously contended he has the authority to name their replacements on his last day in office, but in September he said he’d make the appointments in consultation with the winner of the governor’s race.

Bottom Line: By now, due to the increased awareness of the US Supreme Court, most people are more aware of the importance of high-ranking justices and the politics associated with the process. In Florida, we have a somewhat similar situation to what the US had during the 2016 election cycle. The lean of the Supreme Court hinges on the election of the next executive. In a similar but different set of circumstances, the outgoing executive Rick Scott, won’t have his nominees considered for the court – just as President Obama didn’t have Merrick Garland considered on his way out of office.  

As though the stakes weren’t high enough and the differences as great as they already are... Here you go for some additional stakes. The ideological direction of Florida’s Supreme Court. Btw, the League of Women Voters, who were involved in the suit aimed to prevent Governor Scott from making these appointments has put out a statement that’s essentially an endorsement of Andrew Gillum. Here’s their statement: Andrew Gillum has said he will "appoint diverse, qualified judges who represent the breadth and depth of people in this state." Ron DeSantis has said he will "appoint constitutional conservatives" who will be very different from the retiring justices, who he characterizes as "liberal" and accuses of “legislating from the bench for the past 20 years." Voters now have the opportunity to factor these positions into their choice for governor. 

Any questions?

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