TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s bid to replace three justices on the state Supreme Court before he leaves office drew a fresh legal challenge on Thursday.
Associated Press: Florida Governor’s Push to Name Justices Challenged in Court
Two advocacy groups asked the state Supreme Court to block a statewide nominating commission from coming up with a list of replacement candidates for the three justices who are leaving early next year due to age restrictions.
The three justices who are departing from the seven-member court are often part of a majority that has ruled against Scott and the Republican-controlled Legislature.
Scott last week asked the nominating panel to come up with a list of replacements for Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince in the next 60 days. He said that this would ensure that the court would avoid any vacancies once the justices step down. Scott also promised to work with whoever is elected to replace him in November to reach an agreement on who to pick. Outgoing Gov. Lawton Chiles and incoming Gov. Jeb Bush reached such an agreement in 1998.
But the lawsuit from the League of Women Voters of Florida and Common Cause Florida maintains that Scott does not have the power to make the appointments ahead of when the positions will be vacant. Instead the lawsuit argues the decision must be left to his successor. Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum are the main candidates in the November election.
Lawyers for the groups maintain that the court must step in now “to avoid a potential constitutional crisis.”