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Did You Know a Few Billionaires Want to Rejigger the Florida Supreme Court?

 If you're in the legal biz it's impossible to not be aware of the Koch brothers' campaign to unseat Justices Lewis, Pariente, and Quince. 

But there's also this bugaboo up for a vote in November:
The GOP-led Florida Legislature also put a state constitutional amendment on the ballot that experts say would politicize the Florida Supreme Court.

Amendment 5 would change the Florida Constitution to say that the Florida Senate has to confirm state Supreme Court nominees. If passed, it would also allow the Florida Legislature to repeal any court decision with only a majority, which is 50 percent plus one. Right now, the legislature needs a supermajority.
Oy veh, do you think Florida would have integrated the public school system if the Legislature could have repealed that ruling with a 50 percent plus one vote?

A few newspapers have also weighed in:
"The three Supreme Court justices up for review are under attack by a conservative political action committee which declines requests for interviews...
That is the kind of politics that merit retention was designed to keep away.
For that reason, we strongly recommend voting "yes'' to retain Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince — all of whom passed muster in a Florida Bar poll with approval ratings of at least 89 percent."

Naples Daily News, 9/26/12

"The three Florida justices are certainly competent. A poll of Florida Bar members showed that 92 percent supported retaining Mr. Lewis, 89 percent Ms. Pariente and 90 percent Ms. Quince. And there’s no question of ethical impropriety.
Rather, it’s pure politics.
Let’s hope voters understand what’s at stake here. Let’s hope they vote to retain the three Supreme Court justices.”

Tallahassee Democrat, 09/25/12
Where did all the Jeb Bush Republicans go?

(I'm excluding Raoul Cantero's leadership on this issue -- major props to the guy for taking this on!)


  1. You should also give credit to Republican Alex Villalobos, who is also leading on this issue.

  2. The Republican Party has become an odious caricature. Sickening.

  3. For no other reason than these out of state fuckers are trying to mess with our politics should all Floridians say Fuck You to the K Brothers.

    Fuck you, you motherfuckers.

  4. SFL, thanks for raising awareness on this vital issue.

  5. The folks who are so exercised about keeping the incumbent justices should just come out and say that they support abolishing judicial retention elections. That's actually a defensible position. There aren't any retention elections for federal judges, and somehow things manage to not fall apart. But as long as there's a political process for keeping Florida judges, people are going to play politics. Shocking, I know.

    All that said, yeah, Amendment 5 is BS and a pretty bad overreach by the GOP legislature.

  6. Well said, 11:57 #1.

    Question: is it pronounced coke, cotch (as in 'cotcha m.f.!'), or cock?

  7. If Justice Scalia sat on the Florida Supreme Court and People for the American Way were campaigning against his retention and George Soros funding the effort,I doubt there would be this complaining.

    In addition, the last time I checked, Congress can "overrule" a U.S. Supreme Court decision by a simple majority vote in both houses. The only exception exists when the issue is one of constitutional interpretation.


  8. another ignorant Faux Newser

  9. Yes these judges are EXACTLY like Scalia.....

  10. Of course there would be complaining. Special interests groups should stay out of the court's business. If the legislature does not like a ruling, as someone pointed out, it can in some instances effectively "overrule" the decison and change the law that the court must interpret.

    Also, I would be in favor of getting rid of the merit retention aspect of judicial selection. In most instances it is a meaninless vote. It only becomes crucial when special interests get involved in an attempted judicial coup.

  11. When I was a first or second year associate in the 90's, I worked on a case where Fred Lewis was opposing counsel. I was at a BigLaw firm and he had his own shop, if I recall correctly. Anyway, he cleaned our clocks. But he was an absolute gentleman about it and the model of how opposing counsel should interact with one another. And when he got selected to be on the Supreme Court I smiled and thought he deserved it. So it is with that in mind that I will let everyone I know who votes in FL to vote to retain these three justices.

  12. I thnk all of them are great, but too bad. This is our system, so we have to live with it.

  13. Regarding the proposed amendment to Article V of the Florida Constitution, the article you quoted from is inaccurate. The proposed amendment would not give the Legislature the authority to overrule a Florida Supreme Court DECISION. It would allow the Legislature, by majority vote, to repeal a SUPREME COURT RULE. While this proposed amendment would obviously have significant implications, the news article's mischaracterization should be corrected. The current provision of Article V, Section 2(a) reads:

    “Rules of court may be repealed by general law enacted by two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the legislature."

    The proposed amendment would change this provision to read:

    “Rules of court may be repealed by general law that expresses the policy behind the repeal. The court may readopt the repealed rule only in conformity with the public policy expressed by the legislature. If the legislature determines that a rule has been readopted and repeals the readopted rule, the rule may not be readopted thereafter without prior approval of the legislature.”

  14. So what? What the hell is the legislature doing sticking its nose into the Supreme Court's rulemaking authority?

  15. 9:17, thanks so much for the clarification.

    I still don't like it.

  16. This blog is such awesomeness. Unlike other blogs that trash people and enjoy their misery.

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  18. There aren't any retention elections for federal judges, and somehow things manage to not fall apart. Best Lawyers

  19. Rules of court may be repealed by general law that expresses the policy behind the repeal. Bail Bonds San Luis Obispo

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