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Now LWV, Common Cause Want Supreme Court to Extend, Widen Justice Selections

October 30, 2018 - 6:00am

The application process for three upcoming vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court should be extended until at least early January, according to new legal arguments.

The League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause are asking the Supreme Court to order a nominating commission to extend the application deadline and halt a current nomination process in light of a court order issued this month.

The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on Oct. 15 that the winner of the Nov. 6 governor’s election --- between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum --- has the “sole authority” to appoint the replacements for justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince, who are leaving the court in early January because they have reached a mandatory retirement age.

In a filing on Friday, the League of Women Voters and Common Cause asked the state’s highest court to order the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission to reopen the application process and extend the deadline to at least Jan. 8, which is when the new governor will take office.

The court in the Oct. 15 decision ruled a 60-day period for making appointments after the nominations have been certified by the nominating commission “begins to run only when the governor with the authority to appoint has taken office.”

The emergency petition also asks the court to prohibit the nominating commission from taking any other action on the court vacancies and is asking the court to prohibit Gov. Rick Scott from “taking any further action related to the commission or its membership,” other than preserving public records.

The nominating commission, whose nine members were all appointed by Scott, set an Oct. 8 deadline for applications for the three court vacancies. That resulted in 59 applications being filed by judges and lawyers seeking appointment to the court.

The commission has announced it will interview the applicants over a period of four days, Saturday and Sunday in Miami, and Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 in Tampa. It would then advance a certified list of potential justices to the new governor for consideration.

When that list can be certified by the nominating commission is the subject of a Nov. 8 hearing at the Florida Supreme Court.

“By stopping the process now, the court will ensure that its remedy will be effective and the new governor can fulfill his duties,” attorneys for the League of Women Voters and Common Cause argued in the new filing. “Halting the process now is especially warranted to protect this court’s jurisdiction to provide a meaningful remedy because (the nominating commission members) have demonstrated that they are not restrained by what they know the law to be.”

The petition said the applicant pool is likely to expand if the deadline is extended until January, noting only 11 women, six African-Americans and six Hispanic applicants are in the current pool.

“The current applicant pool is woefully thin on female and black applicants, right at the time that the only female and-or black justices are leaving the court,” the petition said.

The petition also raises questions about Scott’s continued role in the process, despite the Oct. 15 ruling that said he has no authority to make the appointments. Scott set a Nov. 10 deadline for the certified list of nominees.

“Even though the (nominating) commission has known Gov. Scott has no power to impose a deadline, it has faithfully sought to follow the deadline he ordered,” the petition said. “There is no vetting for Gov. Scott to do in this case, and the only involvement his office should have in these matters is to make sure it preserves all records in its possession relating to the nomination of appellate judges during his tenure.”

The petition also raised the question of whether the process has become “tainted” through the actions of the nominating commission and Scott.

“More broadly, the circumstances related in the statement of facts above tend to foster the risk of an increasing public perception that the commission’s proceedings are tainted with partisanship and (are) part of Gov. Scott’s plan to usurp or at least unfairly restrict the ability of the person the people elect to make these appointments based on his own preferences instead of those of Gov. Scott,” the petition said.

The allegation of a “tainted” process could become important if Gillum is elected as the next governor. Some lawyers involved in the appellate process said it could provide a basis for rejecting the initial list from the nominating commission. Others argue that the new governor will have to make his choices from whatever list is advanced by the nominating commission.

The appointments to the seven-member Supreme Court are being watched closely because they have the potential to tilt the judicial direction of the court for years to come.

Pariente, Lewis and Quince are part of a liberal bloc, which now holds a slim 4-3 majority, that has thwarted Scott and the Republican-dominated Legislature on numerous occasions since the governor took office in 2011.


Think about my "12th hour" reference above "Frank"... (look it up and be enlightened).

Guess you don't understand what the "12th hour" reference means... huh dummy?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PATHETIC. . . . . .

TSK, TSK . . . . . . . . . calling Lloyd Dunkelberger a dummy . . . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

I have never seen such a disgusting and political power grab attempt by the courts since the 2000 election debacle when the court embarrassed itself on a national stage by taking partisan sides with David Boise on the selective recount. Barbara Pariente should have run for office the way she tries to preside as a lawmaker - a judge who makes laws. There is NOTHING and I mean NOTHING in the law that should be able to prevent the JNC from convening and sending the Governor a list of names. Any ruling on this issue would be created law - simply invented out of thin air - the worst of judicial activism in this state. SPOILER ALERT: The court will, in perfectly predictable fashion, craft a 4-3 ruling that invents a statute out of thin air that prevents the JNC from meeting and submitting names to either governor until after the election, something not in the law and never contemplated until now. The JNC should appeal to a federal court and hope it gets someone other than Mark Walker and roll the dice. What liberals are trying to do on this issue is exactly why Republicans should be - despite their flaws - voted into office. To prevent an out of control judiciary from issuing lawless fiat after lawless fiat. Its a GD disgrace. Its disgraceful that the Pariente 4 have stooped to this level of disgusting transparent politics. What happened to Democrats like Justice Harding, who respected the law even if he disagreed with it? When this debacle is over, it will be one of the worst incidents of judicial activism in the history of the state. Nancy, thank you for your reporting back in late 2017 on Pariente and her conflicts of interest. Especially with Pamela Goodman.

I couldn't have put it better, or more accurately myself..!

Total politicization of all elements of governance, especially the law, sucks and will lead to nothing but the total failure of effective government. The Kavanaugh affair proves the point.

This thoughtless proposal by the LWV is utter nonsense: and if it were put in place, they would "bleat and whine" just as much and just as long when Democrats "return to power"...(Remember "Harry" (whose name shall not be mentioned), former Senate Majority Leader, who instituted the "simple majority rule" for confirming Supreme Court Justices?!?..Well, THAT came back to "bite Democrats in the azz,.. didn't it?!? How has THAT "worked out for Dems"? Be careful what you ask for, just might get it....and regret it.) The LWV & COMMON CAUSE are intrusive, annoying, and give "Women" a bad name...When will they ever learn????

Spoken with the true anti-female bigotry that you've displayed so often before --> "Women assuming a position of power wield it like no others, with pettiness, animosity and vindictiveness" . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

Get your head out of your butt "Frank" must be. . . . . .PATHETIC. . . up there. (You can always quote me "Frank"..."Truth hurts", but it's always cathartic to ignorant people (both female AND male).

Get your head out of your butt "Frank" must be. . . . . .PATHETIC. . . up there. (You can always quote me "Frank"..."Truth hurts", but it's always cathartic to ignorant people (both female AND male).

Can't defend your own words (and positions), can you . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . .

You imbecile this is to stop rick from packing the courts. He has no right it is the choice of the governor either Republican or Democrat.

"Stick and stones..." I trust any and all that "Rick" (as you morons call him) appoints to the "Court" at the (12th hour). [They would be far better than ANY Democtat picks...FOR CERTAIN !]---(which would be a STEP BACK,.. / ...Or as we say: "Obama Redux".....spare us THAT misery !!!!!

What can't you understand about the new incoming Governor has the "sole authority" to appoint the new justices? . . . . . or, like Trump, do you just try and ignore the (state) Constitution and the related rulings of the (state) Supreme Court? . . . . . . . C Breeze, once again in constitutional and rule of law denial . . . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

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