Thursday, June 14, 2012

Rick Scott Likes to Litigate

Man, Justice Cantero is in demand, eh? And by all sides, it would seem.

I remember reading somewhere that the Republican party promotes judicial restraint. Doesn't that necessarily include an aversion to running to court to try and get your way, every time you don't get your way?

Republican Governor Rick Scott hired Justice Cantero (and our friend, great lawyer and all around good guy Neal McAliley) to appeal an order entered by Leon County Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford that struck a new and improved retirement system that includes a requirement that public employees contribute 3 percent of their pay to the $126 billion Florida Retirement System.

There appears to be some pretty standard fare in Justice Cantero's brief (you can read it here)- appropriations powers, exceeding jurisdiction, contract and property rights.

Justice Cantero's creative legal reasoning regarding Scott's law violating public employee bargaining rights caught my eye. He argued in his brief that local police and transit workers bargained for a 3.1 percent pay increase after Scott's law was passed, "to offset the pension contribution."

Union Lawyer Ron Meyer offered a concise reponse: "They bargained wages," he said. "They didn't bargain pensions." Nice.

In her decision, Fulford wrote that upholding the law "would mean that a contract with our state government has no meaning and that the citizens of our state can place no trust in the work of our Legislature."

How do you argue with that last part, exactly? Particularly because in 1974 Florida's pension plan was converted to a "noncontributory system" for workers.

Conversely, Scott contends ITS NOT FAIR THAT I CAN'T GET MY WAY! Florida's public employees should be required to contribute as a matter of fairness because nearly all other states and private employers who provide pension benefits require their workers to contribute. (Uh, no they don't.)

And fear mongering. He's also expressed doubts about the future soundness of the retirement system.

Which is odd because according to the Pew Center on the States, Florida "is one of only three states to have more pension assets than accrued liability - funding 101 percent of its total pension obligation, well above the 80 percent benchmark the U.S. Government Accountability office says is preferred by experts."

Random drug tests for state workers, requiring public employees to contribute their pay to the state retirement system, perhaps violating public employee bargaining careful what you ask for...

N.B. I applaud the naivete civility demonstrated by opposing counsel Ron Meyer who, in response to a question regarding Justice Cantero serving as Chairman of Justice Pariente's campaign for retention on the Supreme Court, stated that he had no concern about the relationship. "They're just above that." Exactly. Like when a litigant before Judge King hires Bobby Martinez to represent it.


Anonymous said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Any word from SFL?

Anonymous said...

I wonder the fees Raul is fetching....

Anonymous said...

Raul sues Scott on one hand and defends him on the other. nice.

Godwhacker said...

Wow these ex-CEO's make great governors! I wonder how they'll do as president?