The Florida Supreme Court has made a ruling about itself and is stopping Governor Rick Scott from adding three new justices to the bench.
Instead, the court ruled that the next governor will be able to fill those seats. Justice Barbara J. Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy A. Quince are three of the court’s seven justices facing mandatory retirement in January 2019 because they have reached a mandatory retirement age. The Florida state constitution states the justices terms expire on Jan. 8, 2019.
Governor Scott, who is now running for Senate, told the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission to meet and forward a list of potential candidates to him by Nov. 10.
Then Governor Scott planned to appoint three new justices on the last day of his term and before his successor took the oath of office.
The court ruled that Governor Scott requesting a list of potential nominees and setting a deadline he was exceeding his "authority."
According to the Florida Constitution once a list is made with candidates the governor would have a sixty-day period after nominations have been certified where he is required to make appointments.
Whoever is the winner of the Nov. 6 election between Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum will now be able to fill the court vacancies based on at least two premises.
The first premise is Justices Pariente, Lewis, and Quince, do not leave before the end of their terms on the midnight between January 7 and January 8. The second premise is that the new governor takes the oath of office before January 8 and officially becomes governor at midnight the same time the retiring justices’ terms end.
The justices did agree to hear oral arguments on the issue of when the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission can certify a list of candidates to the governor.
Since the JNC is an independent it is not bound by Governor Scott’s deadlines. The hearing on this issue is set for Nov. 8.