Florida Supreme Court justices Lewis, Pariente and Quince withstand conservative opposition, remain on bench
Despite an unprecedented campaign against them, three Florida Supreme Court justices up for merit retention easily were returned to the bench.
Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince withstood opposition from a coalition of conservative groups, including the Republican Party of Florida, Americans for Prosperity and tea party activists.
The active campaigning against the justices increased the profile of this year's merit retention vote. But the outcome was about the same as in other years, will all three justices receiving about two-thirds of the vote, with most votes counted.
They only needed a simple majority to keep their jobs for an additional six years.
"We cannot permit a judicial decision to be based on what may be politically popular," Lewis said Tuesday night. "We are in danger of losing our democracy if we have to become worried about the partisan political views."
Lewis, 64, was appointed to the court in 1999 by Democratic Gov. Lawton Chiles. He was born into a West Virginian coal-mining family and keeps artifacts from the family business on his work desk.
Chiles also appointed Pariente, now 63, to the court in 1997. She made headlines in 2003 when she shared her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer and appeared at oral arguments with a shaved head.
Quince was jointly appointed to the court in 1999 by Chiles and Gov. Jeb Bush. The 64-year-old is the first African-American woman to serve on the seven-member high court.
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