The House Speaker’s Shameful Assault On The Judiciary


TALLAHASSEE—The Republican Florida House has declared war on the state’s judiciary.

Republican leaders may talk about their admiration for the Constitution. The bedrock of the Constitution is the separation of powers. This move by the House is an ominous threat to it.

This is the work of House Speaker Dean Cannon of Winter Park. He’s a lawyer so he should know better.

Last year he lashed out at the Florida Supreme Court for striking three of the Legislature’s proposed constitutional amendments.

Cannon doesn’t like the court telling the Legislature it was passing unlawful legislation.

That’s called checks-and-balances, perhaps the most vital aspect of our democracy. Maybe Cannon failed that portion of his University of Florida law school education!

Cannon didn’t wait long to get even. He made the courts a target this session.

Allowing anger to drive legislation is not an admirable trait.

Cannon is like a kid who doesn’t like the outcome of the game, so he’s going to change the rules.

Cannon’s Proposals

His ideas to punish the court are to:

  • Split the Supreme Court in two, with one branch hearing civil cases and the other hearing criminal cases. This expansion of government in the face of budget cuts makes no sense.

The court is actually hearing less cases today than it did in the past. The idea was already rejected in 2001 by the commission that was formed to figure ways to improve the court’s efficiency.

The real reason Cannon wants this is it would automatically create a number of openings that would be filled by conservative Gov. Rick Scott.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to expand the courts in the 1930s because they weren’t ruling the way he wanted, conservatives called it court packing. That’s what Cannon’s idea is now.

  • Make it easier to remove appellate judges. He wants judges to get a vote of 60 percent or more in their merit elections or be kicked out of office.

You can become governor with a simple majority, but judges would have to jump over a higher hurtle. What is the reasoning behind that?

  • Requiring any investigation of a judge be made public, regardless of whether or not probable cause was found to support the allegations.

This is a good idea. Too many judges have been reprimanded behind closed doors and the public never finds out.

But Cannon is only proposing this to annoy the judiciary and deflect attention from his other bad proposals.

Shortchanging the Courts For Years

If Cannon really wanted to improve the court system, he would start funding it. The GOP Legislature has repeatedly refused to give the court system the money it needs, despite a flood of new cases from foreclosures.

But there are no votes in putting more needed money in the courts.

There are votes in feeding red meat to the mindless masses who rail against the courts, until they end up in one. Then they wonder why their divorce or law suit is taking so long.

Thankfully, Cannon’s proposals have a long way to go.

They are already sailing through the House committees, but need approval of three-fifths of the full House and Senate before they are put on the 2012 ballot. Then 60 percent or more of the voters need to approve them.

Let’s hope the rest of the Legislature is smarter than Cannon. Let’s hope they put this bully with a gavel in his place.

15 Responses to “The House Speaker’s Shameful Assault On The Judiciary”

  1. S.O.B. says:

    A great idea would be to put our part-time legislature in the position they espose, they have to live under the terms they want others to follow, need 60% to get elected, cut in their State benefits, if it is good enough for us mear mortals and the State employees…it should be good enough for them…

  2. 49% says:


    I want you to know, that Rick Scott only got 49% of the vote, so I guess we need a new election.

  3. Elroy_John says:

    So glad you are bringing attention to this. Like you, I hope our elected leaders, Republicans and Democrats alike, see this threat for what it is. Republicans have been in power in this state for some time now, but nothing lasts forever. They could soon find themselves on the wrong side of the warped legislation their leaders are shoveling through the chambers this session.

  4. Daniel Simpson Day says:

    Cannon may very well be harebrained when it comes to splitting the Supreme Court, but he’s absolutely right on the Court’s tossing ballot items.

    As Buddy stated: “Cannon doesn’t like the court telling the Legislature it was passing unlawful legislation.”

    “That’s called checks-and-balances, perhaps the most vital aspect of our democracy.”

    W-R-O-N-G! That’s called meddling in another branch of government. The U.S. Supreme court might as well be weighing in with opinion and overturn of Congressional legislation the court might consider illegal before it comes to a vote. The system was set up so the Supreme Court would rule on the constitutionality of law, not proposed law.

  5. Jenks says:

    It is not shameful.
    Judges have been behaving like pigs in the farm yard for far too long.

  6. Broward Politico says:

    Excellent article Buddy. I’ve disagreed with you in the past on some things, but this is serious and it is dead on.
    What speaker Cannon is doing is nothing more than mere petty vindictive politics against the judiciary. The judiciary which seaker Cannon doesn’t know or doesn’t care is the third and co-equal branch of government.
    This really shows what a dangerous man Cannon is. Folks in Winter Park and Cannon’s district take note, take very careful note.
    If Cannon had his way, the judiciary would just be abolished.
    Dangerous man! very dangerous man!

  7. Watcher says:

    Daniel….it’s not a consrvative principle to overturn years of precedent of the Florida’s Supreme Court ….every day this column exposes why liberals call you people wingnuts

  8. Susie says:

    Watcher, everyone is going along, having good back and forth dialogue, and you chime in with your ad hominem attack. Shame on you.

  9. Broward Politico says:

    One party rule anywhere is dangerous and lends itself to tyranny. I’m talking Cuba, North Korea, Iran and now the State of Florida with Gov Rick Scott and the Republican Senate and House.
    Hold on fellow Floridians, we’re in for a long, bumpy, scary ride.
    God help the good people of the State of Florida.

  10. Its a Miracle says:

    The Supremes can “Check” legislative actions and that is OK, but when the legislature “Balances” the judiciary, everyone cries foul. He is only using his Constitutional Powers to enact laws. He is working within the framework of constitutional government. Any amendments he creates will have to be voted on by the electorate. If the electorate likes these suggestions, are they too being unfair and mean spirited?

  11. Watcher says:

    suzie..your not entitled to your facts…the supreme court of the US resolves “cases and controversies”…not as suggested declaring an unpassed law unconstitutional…the florida court has always in memory looked at proposed amendments as to compliance with constitutionally specified amendment proceedures …..a rant requires perspective….

  12. Susie says:

    Watcher, I stand by what I said. There is no place in CIVIL discourse for the term “wingnuts.” Don’t try to re-focus what I said the first time around…we do not need or learn from ad hominem attacks.

  13. Carlos Says says:

    This legislative program is NOT about individual judges or individual cases. These guys everybody trusts so much, “the politicians”, are trying to weaken a separate branch of government for their own benefit, NOT yours. If you like more government then support this change. The legislative branch wants to run unchecked allegedly for good intent. Hitler fooled everybody with his ideas and consolidated power by capturing the budget for judges, the appointment and the retention of judges. Castro fooled the U.S. government that intitially backed his takeover then consolidated power by capturing the budget for judges, the appointment and the retention of judges. Sure the legislature wants judges that think like they do. So does the legislature in Iran and, they got them. The Legislatures need to stop messing for their own advantage with the “system” in place from the Constitution that stops excess by the Executive or Legislative branch. Once they screw it up, there may not be any going back and bad intent will SURELY show up once the system is changed. Staying quiet about these attempted changes is not an option. Make noise.

  14. Carlos Says says:

    P.S. Judges that exceed the rule of law can be removed by the Executive Branch or by the Florida Supreme Court (JQC) or impeached by the Legislature. So ask yourself, given the checks in place against “wild” or “crazy” or “immoral” judges, are not the Legislative and Executive branches just pulling a power grab and what good will that self-interest lead to for the public? Does anyone believe they have a better system than the one in place in the Constitution?

  15. Broward Politico says:

    Dean Cannon is all for the integrity and independence of the judiciary as long as it is his judiciary.
    It’s patently obvious speaker Cannon is not a man of integrity.
    He’s up in 2012.