PBS and NPR for Southwest Florida
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

RPOF Involvement Ratchets Up Judicial Merit Retention Clash

Now that the Republican Party of Florida has joined the drive to oust three justices from the state Supreme Court, the fight has gained enormous momentum. 

Voters will decide in November whether to keep Justices Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince on the high court. On Friday the executive board of the state Republican Party called for voters to oppose the trio, calling them "liberals" and accusing them of "judicial activism." 

On Monday, supporters of the three justices blasted the move. One was former American Bar Association president Sandy D'Alemberte, who led the struggle in the 1970's to change the way the state chooses judges. 

"We got politics out of the judiciary”, said D'Alemberte. “And before we did that, we had some terrible scandals in Florida. But now, since we fixed those problems by trying to get politics out, what's happening now is the executive committee of the Republican Party is attempting to break something that's been fixed." 

The party's involvement means much larger sums of money can now be donated to defeating the justices – and it can be done anonymously. And if that happens, Republican Governor Rick Scott will appoint their replacements. 

On Monday a spokeswoman for Scott said he'd been unaware of his party's vote. Republican Party chairman Lenny Curry agreed.

Related Content
  1. Emergency Meeting Called to Extend Search for Education Commissioner