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Supreme Court Makeover Underway

January 15th, 2019 by Mike Vasilinda

Governor Ron Desantis is on a mission to remake Florida Courts.

He’s already filled two vacancies on the state’s highest court and one more appointment is in the works, but there’s no guarantee his choices will ultimately make decisions to the Governor’s liking.

The new governor made it clear in his inaugural address what he wants in a judge.

“For far too long, Florida has seen judges expand their power beyond constitutional bounds,” said DeSantis.

So far, his picks for the State Supreme Court are being praised.

Barbara Lagoa is the first female Hispanic on the court.

Robert Luck, at 37 could spend nearly four decades there before reaching mandatory retirement at 75.

A number of controversial decisions from Florida’s Supreme Court have been decided on a four to three vote, but there has also been unanimous votes.

Mark Schlakman is a former Gubernatorial Special Counsel.

He says no ideological guarantee comes with any selection.

“When they reach that level, given Stare Decisis and precedent, most judges do the right thing for the right reason,” said Schlakman.

The new Governor is also facing some criticism.

For the first time in decades, no African American is on the court.

The panel that screened potential judges chose not to recommend one.

Attorney Thomas Dickens says it matters.

“What if you were say, a white litigant, and you go before a panel that is all African American jurists,” said Dickens. “How does, does that make you feel comfortable that justice was done once the answer comes back?”

Democrats have already filed legislation to revamp the makeup of the panels that screen and nominate judicial candidates, but it stands little chance of passing.

Even if lawmakers were to approve changing the judicial nomination commission make up, this or any Governor would likely veto it, since the Governor controls all the appointments.

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