League of Women Voters argues judicial nomination process 'tainted'

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By: Capitol News Service
November 8, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- A lawyer for the League of Women Voters told Supreme Court Justices that the process for picking three replacements was “tainted” by political considerations.

The League wants the process stopped until a new governor is allowed input.

Controversial decisions from the State Supreme Court are usually decided by a 4-3 margin, but three justices usually on the majority are being forced to retire January 8.

59 possible replacements are being interviewed, but since all nine people doing the interviewing were appointed by Governor Rick Scott, the League of Women Voters calls it "the result of a tainted process.”

The League wants more applications accepted, arguing the current applicants were ideologically vetted.

“They have members who want to apply, but wouldn’t apply when it looked like Governor Scott was making it," said Attorney John Mills, who is representing the League.

The lawyer for the nominating commission says there is nothing for the court to decide.

“I think this is much to do about nothing. I’m still struggling to find out what we did wrong," said the Commission's attorney, Raoul Cantero.

One retiring justice was skeptical.

“You’re suggesting that we should allow, just a couple of politicians, to get together and they on their own can decide what they want to do, no matter what the Constitution says?" asked Justice Fred Lewis.

“I’m not suggesting that at all," Cantero replied.

While the arguments were deep in the woods of public policy and the constitution, this case could decide the ideological bent of the court for decades to come.

“And what they want to have is a six-one court," said Mills. "Ideologically tilted when we have an electorate that is about as close to fifty-fifty as you can imagine. That’s wrong.”

We asked nominating chair Jason Unger about the allegations.

“I have no comment, but it was an interesting argument," said Unger.

Under current law, the next governor must select nominees for the court from a list provided by the commission appointed by Rick Scott.

Ironically, because voters changed the rules for retiring justices when they approved Amendment 6, a case like this one will never go before the court again.

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