TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With three Florida Supreme Court justices retiring in January, an invitation to apply to the job was issued Wednesday by the Florida Bar Association.
The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission set an Oct. 8 deadline for applications to fill three positions that will open in January because of the mandatory retirements of justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince.
Gov. Rick Scott announced Tuesday that he was starting the process to select new justices. One of the selections will have to be a resident of the area covered by the 3rd District Court of Appeal, which includes Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. The other two selections are for what are considered “at large” seats on the Supreme Court.
Scott's desire to appoint three replacement justices before he leaves office has drawn the ire of groups like the League of Women Voters who believe Scott's successor should nominate the replacements.
Democratic nominee for governor Andrew Gillum said he also believes the next governor should appoint the justices.
“Our read of the Constitution is pretty clear,” Gillum said. "The next governor of the State of Florida will make the next three appointments to the Supreme Court.”
Gillum said he will seek clarity from the high court the day after the election.
“It certainly could be a constitutional crisis,” said Human Rights attorney Mark Schlakman.
Schlakman said the court punted on a decision last year, but the debate could soon be brought back into the courtroom.
“Arguably, by way of the governor initiating a process, that might be enough in the way of gubernatorial action to revisit the matter,” Schlakman said.
How to apply
Applications may be obtained online. Applicants must submit the original application and all attachments, an electronic copy of the original application and attachments in PDF format and an electronic redacted copy of the original application, which excludes all material that is exempt or confidential under applicable public records laws.
Applicants who are selected by the commission for personal interviews will be informed of their interview times by email.
The commission will have 60 days to submit the names of three to six nominees for each seat. The selection process will be closely watched as Pariente, Lewis and Quince -- along with Justice Jorge Labarga, the only one of the four to remain -- are widely considered a left-leaning majority on the seven-member court. That has led to the possibility that their replacements could spur a rightward shift of the court.