Tallahassee, Florida- September 11, 2012
Restore Justice 2012, is trying to make history. In Florida, voters have never used merit retention to boot a judge, but this November Justice Fred Lewis, Peggy Quince and Barbara Pariente could be the first.
Restore Justice is targeting the justices because they ruled against a ballot question aimed at banning the new health care law in Florida. The group claims it was a political decision. The justices say the ballot language was misleading.
"It was a political issue that the legislature wanted placed on the ballot dealing with Obamacare," said former Senator Alex Villalobos
During a conference call Tuesday, Members of Defend Justice from Politics defended the ruling.
Fueling the debate are these competing reports. This one from The Florida Bar gives the justices a 90 percent job approval rating among Florida attorneys, but this one from Restore Justices gives them all Fs."
Former American Bar President Sandy D'Alemberte says the failing grades are based on poor data. D'Alembert adds merit retention is a tool to remove incompetent judges, not a means to vote out judges you disagree with.
"There are people who disagree with their opinions, I disagree with some of their opinions, but that doesn't mean they are not qualified to serve," said former bar president Sandy D'Alemberte.
D'Alemberte says voting these justices off the bench will politicize the process and in Florida justice will no longer be blind.
Judges are up for merit retention every six years during the General Election. They have no opponent, but to keep their job they have to get a majority vote. Many Florida voters skip the merit retention questions. In 2010, a million people who cast ballots for governor left the merit retention questions blank.