By: Capitol News Service
September 13, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Three of Florida’s seven Supreme Court justices are being forced to retire on January 8. It’s the same day a new governor takes office.
When Governor Rick Scott named a new justice in December 2016, we asked who would appoint those three new judges.
“Well, I’ll appoint three more justices the morning I finish my term,” said Scott.
Scott’s answer sparked a lawsuit by the League of Women Voters.
“We have an official press conference by the governor where he is asserting his right,” said League of Women Voters Attorney John Mills in November of 2017.
In the end, the justices decided since there was no vacancy and no one being appointed, there was nothing to decide.
Now, Governor Scott is reigniting the controversy, calling for recommendations to fill the three seats. Applicants have until October 8 to apply, but the idea isn’t sitting well with Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum.
“Our read of the Constitution is pretty clear,” said Gillum. "The next Governor of the State of Florida will make the next three appointments to the Supreme Court.”
Gillum says he will seek clarity from the high court the day after the election.
“It certainly could be a constitutional crisis,” said Human Rights Attorney Mark Schlakman.
Schlakman says the court punted on a decision last year, but the debate could soon be brought back into the courtroom.
“Arguably, by way of the governor initiating a process, that might be enough in the way of gubernatorial action to revisit the matter,” said Schlakman.
The Nominating Commission has 60 days to submit between three and six names for each vacancy.
Scott has offered to let the Governor-Elect interview the nominees for the positions, but he hasn’t said they will have a say in who gets appointed.
The court must have five justices to decide cases.