TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida's next governor and not Gov. Rick Scott will get to pick three new justices to the state Supreme Court.
In a major rebuke to Scott, the Supreme Court on Monday ruled that the Republican governor exceeded his authority when he started the process to find replacements for the three justices.
Age limits are forcing three justices to retire on the day Scott is scheduled to leave the governor's office. Scott last month asked a nominating commission to start accepting applications. He also said he would try to reach an agreement on the picks with the next governor.
The League of Women Voters and Common Cause sued to block the move.
In a one-page ruling, the court said that whoever is elected in November has the "sole authority" to name the new justices to replace Justices Barbara J. Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy A. Quince.
Florida gubernatorial candidates Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis both issued statements on the decision.
"I am pleased the Florida Supreme Court has brought closure to this important issue finding, as we have consistently stated, that the next Governor of Florida will appoint the next three Supreme Court justices," Gillum said in an email. "It is a duty I take extremely seriously and, as Governor, one of my top priorities will be to restore integrity to the judicial nominating process."
“Today’s decision makes November’s election even more critical for the future of our state,” DeSantis spokesman Stephen Lawson said in an email to the Orlando Sentinel. “If Andrew Gillum is elected, out-of-state, radical groups would pressure him to appoint activist judges who would legislate from the bench to fit their own ideology. The consequences of this would be felt for generations, and it would be dangerous for every person in our state.”
Read the full decision below:
The petition for writ of quo warranto against Governor Rick Scott is hereby granted. The governor who is elected in the November 2018 general election has the sole authority to fill the vacancies that will be created by the mandatory retirement of Justices Barbara J. Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince, provided the justices do not leave prior to the expiration of their terms at midnight between January 7 and January 8, 2019, and provided that the governor takes office immediately upon the beginning of his term. Governor Scott exceeded his authority by directing the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission ("the JNC") to submit its nominations to fill these vacancies by November 10, 2018. The sixty-day period after nominations have been certified within which the governor is required to make appointments, set forth in article V, section 11(c), of the Florida Constitution begins to run only when the governor with the authority to appoint has taken office. As the JNC is an independent body, it is not bound by Governor Scott's deadlines. The issue of when the JNC can certify its nominations shall be the subject of oral argument to be held at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, November 8, 2018. A maximum of twenty minutes to the side is allowed for the argument, but counsel is expected to use only so much of that time as is necessary. NO CONTINUANCES WILL BE GRANTED EXCEPT UPON A SHOWING OF EXTREME HARDSHIP.