BY BUDDY NEVINS
Activists are targeting Florida’s court system once again.
Surprsingly enough, the activist in charge is accusing three Supreme Court Justices of alleged “judicial activism”. He wants them removed.
How come some always claims to be following the Constitution…except when it comes to the part that guarantees an independent judiciary?
We saw it last year when the Florida House, firmly under the control of the Far Right, tried to water down the powers of the Florida Supreme Court by expanding it.
But the House plan was too much for even some conservative state senators. A bi-partisan group of senators killed the court packing plan, calling it an attack on the independence of the court.
The current version is led by a computer programmer who is new to politics and apparently decided on how own to run Restore Justice 2012. That’s believable.
Three Justices On Hit List
The group seeks to prevent the retention of Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince.
The Tallahassee Democrat’s Capitol veteran Bill Cotterell says the effort to topple the three Justices “appears likely to become the most hotly contested judicial elections in more than 20 years.”
The group spokesman cited two incidences of “judicial activism” for the Democrat: (1) Removing the Legislature-sponsored Health Care Freedom Act from the ballot and (2) striking a death-penalty constitutional amendment.
Apparently the group believes the state’s Right-Wing Legislature should be allowed to pass anything, even if it is not constitutional.
Merit retention elections are usually non-events. Not one Justice or appeals court judge has been removed in a merit retention election since the method was adopted in 1976.
This year it could be different.
First of all, the Main-Street media has endured so many cutbacks that there will be very little coverage of the race. That works in conservatives’ favor. Voters who know nothing about these low-visibility, down-ballot races could get their only information from negative advertisements.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case could influence the referendum. It now allows corporations to pour unlimited money into campaigns.
There is no shortage of deep-pocket businesses run by conservatives. Of course, there is no shortage of rich lawyers in the Justices corner, too.
The Justices are forbidden from raising money for their defense. But they have three former presidents of the Florida Bar, former Attorney General Bob Butterworth and former Justice Raoul Cantero fighting for them.
Watch this one. Here is a recent letter send out by the Justices’ supporters:
(Addressed to a Broward lawyer)
When Justice Quince asked me if I would co-chair her statewide Committee of Responsible Persons, I immediately accepted because I know that Florida needs fair and impartial judges like Justices Lewis, Pariente, and Quince. Because they will appear on the November ballot for merit retention, and there is organized opposition to their retention, committees of concerned citizens have been formed for each justice. There is a real and immediate threat to our judicial branch and we need your help.
In 2010, political organizations funded almost exclusively by out-of-state special interests blocked the retention of three Iowa Supreme Court justices because of one politically-unpopular but unanimous decision. These out-of-state interests succeeded by laying low and catching the Iowa legal community by surprise, without time to respond.
Similar groups and interests have turned their attention to Florida, where they hope to mount the same sneak attack and turn the merit retention process into a political side-show….
If you share my concern about politicizing the Florida Supreme Court, you can help by letting your colleagues, friends and family know that this threat to our judicial system is real, and that they need to vote to retain Justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince in November. If you are interested in getting more information about this issue or helping with the justices’ campaigns, please reply by e-mail and I will send you more information. Thank you.
Kelly Overstreet Johnson Co-Chair, Committee of Responsible Persons for Justice Peggy A. Quince
Contributions may be personal or corporate but may not exceed $500, and are respectively to the Fred Lewis Campaign; Barbara Pariente Campaign; or Peggy Quince Campaign; for retention to the Florida Supreme Court. Pd. Pol. Adv. Paid for in equal amounts and approved by the Committees of Responsible Persons: (1) For the Merit Retention of R. Fred Lewis; (2) For the Merit Retention of Barbara J. Pariente; and (3) For the Merit Retention of Peggy A. Quince; c/o Dan R. Stengle, Legal Counsel, 119 South Monroe Street, Suite 300, Tallahassee FL 32301. Contributions to campaigns are not deductible for Federal income tax purposes.