Before next governor is chosen, Fla. Supreme Court hopefuls face ideological test

Nov 5, 2018
Originally published on November 5, 2018 1:18 pm

As Floridians wait in suspense for Tuesday night’s election results, a group of nine men and women, appointed by Gov. Rick Scott, worked through the weekend to decide the state’s next three Supreme Court justices.

Though the judicial nominating commission’s goal is “to aid the governor” in his selection, according to the nominating commission’s recent court filings, it forged ahead with its first interviews in the weekend before the election, before knowing which governor it will be aiding. That's according to our Florida Times-Union news partner.

The state Supreme Court has said the next governor will fill three vacancies in January, but that governor must choose from a list of three finalists for each vacancy sent by the judicial nominating commission. The governor does not have any veto over the lists.

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments Thursday from the League of Women Voters, who are arguing the commission must stop working until the next governor takes office.

The 59 applicants have largely self-sorted into a who’s who of Republican lawyers. While the list is filled with attorneys who’ve worked as Republican staffers or as Republican lawmakers themselves, only one of the attorneys explicitly worked in Democratic politics, representing the state party and former Vice President Al Gore.

Even others who are less partisan but who work in areas of the law that have had a harder time getting appointed by Gov. Rick Scott — criminal defense or civil plaintiff’s work, for example — were less likely to apply, the League of Women Voters’ attorney John Mills previously said. Mills said that potential applicants didn’t want to submit an application until after they saw who would be the next governor. Amendment Six on the ballot, if passed, might also lead older attorneys to apply since that amendment would raise the mandatory retirement age to 75, Mills argued.

A more in-depth look at the applicants is available in the story at jacksonville.com.

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