Florida Governor Rick Scott Seeks to Pack the Courts

us supreme court.jpgMost freedom-loving Americans believe that intelligence, skill, character, and temperament are the most important qualities of a judge. Not so Florida Governor Rick Scott. Ideology is what matters most to this governor … right-wing ideology at that.

In a blatant effort to subvert a free-acting judiciary, Governor Scott is seeking to change the way judge’s are selected in Florida. He is pushing legislation that will remove the selection process from the hands of independent groups and give it to the governor. Shocking.

Reproduced below is a Letter to the Editor published in today’s Miami Herald which touches nicely on the subject:
Keep Florida’s judiciary independent
There’s a challenge afoot this legislative session for Florida Bar Association President Scott G. Hawkins and the Bar’s board members: To protect Florida’s justice system from a force that, if left unchecked, would eviscerate it.

Gov. Rick Scott plans to completely overtake Judicial Nominating Committee appointments. The governor has stated he would like to move all JNC appointments to the Office of the Governor, rejecting the time-honored and traditional input of the Florida Bar. This would amount to the biggest judicial power grab in Florida’s history.

Don’t be fooled by the promises and rhetoric: This is not about the philosophical belief that Florida would have a stronger, more independent judiciary if picked exclusively by the executive branch. Gov. Scott has an agenda for “his” judiciary.

While conservatives bemoan the “activist judiciary,” it is clear that his standards for the JNC selection process would become a de facto litmus test. The list is short and simple. Candidates would need to be for the death penalty, against abortion rights and gay marriage and would have to support limiting claimants’ rights in the civil-trial arena.

Whether Floridians agree that such a litmus test would exist is not the issue. Florida, and society, need an independent judiciary that will confront the hard issues without the predetermined perspectives of one man — even if that man happens to be the governor.

The input of the Florida Bar into JNC appointments is crucial. Capitulate on this issue at the peril of our state well beyond Gov. Scott’s time in office.

David W. Singer, Hollywood ******************************
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