First look at Florida’s newest Supreme Court Justices
Bottom Line: Governor DeSantis’s major announcement on Tuesday turned out to be the long-awaited replacements for former Florida Supreme Court Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck which President Trump advanced to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last fall. The announcement, made in Miami, produced Judge Renatha Francis and attorney John Couriel. So, who are Florida’s newest Supreme Court Justices and what might we expect from them?
Renatha Francis serves on Florida’s 15th Circuit Court in Palm Beach County, having previously served as a judge on Miami’s 11th Circuit Court.She was appointed to her most recent post by Governor DeSantis last October, so the governor had clearly expressed confidence in her. She was originally appointed to Miami’s 11th Circuit Court, so she’s received support from Florida’s two most recent governors. A Jamaican native, Renatha received her Bachelor's degree from the University of the West Indies in Jamaica before relocating to Jacksonville. She attended law school at the Florida Coastal School of Law. After law school she served as a private practice attorney at Miami’s Shutts & Bowen representing insurance companies in personal injury cases. Prior to being appointed to Miami’s 11th Circuit Court by Governor Scott, she’d served as a law clerk for the First District Court of Appeals. Renatha’s current oversight includes the Family Division and Probate cases for Florida’s 15th Circuit. Renatha will be known as the first Jamaican American Justice on the Florida Supreme Court. Her judicial discretion is best described as being a Constitutionalist, one inclined to lean on literal interpretations of the Constitution and law.
John Couriel was born and raised in Miami prior to attending Harvard for his Bachelor's and law degrees. A member of the Federalist Society, which advocates for strict Constitutional interpretation of law, John served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for Florida’s Southern District. He’s also served as a law clerk to Justice Bates of the D.C. District Court. John worked in private practice as an attorney at Davis Polk & Wardell handling European and Latin American litigation for the firm. He’d previously unsuccessfully run, as a Republican, for Florida’s State Senate in 2012 and State House in 2016.
Renatha and John have records as strong originalists and should satisfy those who seek Constitutional justice as opposed to judicial activism. They should preserve the perceived “conservative” majority of Florida’s Supreme Court first attained with Governor DeSantis’s initial Supreme Court nominations.