Florida’s Republican legislature is taking aim at dramatically overhauling the Supreme Court. The House passed 3 measures, including a constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot next year.
If approved by 60% of voters, the 7 member Supreme Court would add 3 new members and be split into civil and criminal court divisions. The 3 most senior justices – the only remaining justices appointed by the last Democratic Governor – would be moved to the criminal bench.
The 3 new appointees to be picked by Rick Scott would sit on the civil division. The civil court would oversee social issues like abortion and political redistricting.
Also included in the proposed Supreme Court rigging amendment, The Governor would appoint all members of the Judicial Nominating Commission – only one third of which are currently appointed by the Governor. The Republican controlled Senate would be able to confirm the Governor’s appointments. It would also allow the state legislature to repeal court rulings.
“No one party should be in control of all levels of government,” said Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek. “This is an attempt by leadership to not only command the governor’s office, the House and the Senate — but also the judiciary.” Democrats charge the Republicans are overreaching – an attempt by the GOP legislature and Governor Scott to shape redistricting efforts by restricting the court’s independence.
Over 60% of Floridians who voted in November approved Amendments 5 & 6, the Fair District Amendments.
Republicans in the state have been working against the measures, first with their own amendment that was struck down by the courts for being intentionally misleading, and most recently with their lawsuit against implementation. Governor Voldemort even went so far as to withdraw the amendments for review by the DOJ (in compliance with the Voter Rights Act) before the state legislature resubmitted them with prejudicial language.