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Politics / Issues

League of Women Voters Questions Judicial House Bill

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Flcourts.org

With the legislature in session, the League of Women voters is paying special attention to House Bill 7033. The league sees it as a threat to Florida's merit-based judicial nominating process.

The bill would revise the appointment of members of judicial nominating commissions. It would allow the governor to remove any or all of the five members he or she appoints with or without cause - and without the Florida Bar's input.  

Peter Webster, past president of the American Judicature Society, said it's obvious what would happen if a member is removed without cause.

"The purpose clearly is to diminish the independence of the nominating commissioners and to increase the likelihood that they will nominate people who are philosophically aligned with the governor if they're not the most qualified for the position," he said.

President of the League in Florida Deidre Macnab said this isn't the first time the legislature has tried something like this.

"If the Florida Legislature was listening, they would know the result of the 2012 election showed an overwhelming support by Florida voters for the continued and the need to strengthen the independence and impartiality of the judicial branch," she said.

In the 2012 election, a proposed state constitutional amendment would have mandated all appointments to the Florida Supreme Court be subject to a confirmation by the Senate. That amendment failed.

In 2011, then-House Speaker Dean Cannon proposed to split the Florida Supreme Court in half and allow the governor to appoint three members. That too, fell through.

The current House bill doesn't have a Senate companion and is still sitting in a judiciary committee in the House.