Emboldened by successes of conservative activists in Iowa in 2010 in removing three state Supreme Court justices on account of their decision to legalise same-sex marriage in Iowa, Florida's GOP wants voters to oust three Florida Supreme Court justices, ostensibly because they voted to require Florida's legislature to reword its ballot amendment allowing Floridians to refuse to buy mandatory health insurance. Millions will be spent on ads by Americans for Prosperity, well-known Koch brothers Super-PAC.
Justices R. Fred Lewis and Barbara J. Pariente were appointed by Democrat Lawton Chiles, while Peggy A. Quince was appointed by both Chiles and Republican Jeb Bush during 1998's transition period. Getting rid of sitting justices was just part of GOP plans for Florida's Court:
"The Legislature is also involved in efforts to influence the judiciary. A ballot initiative, Amendment 5, would give the Senate, not the governor, final approval over the choice of state Supreme Court justices -- similar to the federal system. It also would allow the Legislature to repeal court rules with a majority vote, not the two-thirds now required. And it would grant the House speaker access to confidential judicial misconduct investigation files before charges actually being filed."Not all Republicans agree with this approach. Former U.S. Attorney Bob Martinez commented:
"I think it's a mistake for a party, as a party, to state a position that a certain judge should be thrown out, because then you are introducing partisanship into a system that is supposed to be nonpartisan. And when you have elected officials, on the right or left, criticizing judges publicly it can become very dangerous and it can undermine the public's faith in the judiciary."Although Justice Quince complains that she feels she has one hand tied behind her back in fighting for her seat, she and her colleagues won't go down without any support from newspapers, fellow lawyers and judges, or even police.
Will Florida Republicans succeed in politicising Florida's courts no matter whether they win or lose in their efforts on 6 November? If Lewis, Pariente and Quince survive, will they think of themselves as having been re-elected by Democrats instead of retained on their merits? With Republicans looking for more control over courts in Iowa and Florida, will Democrats look for similar opportunities to punish conservative judges in blue states?