Reaction from Florida Supreme Court justices and others on merit retention vote
Via e-mail, we have received statements from all three Florida Supreme Court justices who were up for merit retention votes today, as well as some of their supporters. All are celebrating the results of tonight's election, where voters overwhelming supported keeping R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince on the bench.
Alex Villalobos, former Republican state senator and president of Democracy at Stake: "The people of Florida have a message for the special interests and politicians seeking to tip the scales of Justice. Our courts are not for sale. Unfortunately, it is a message we will likely have to deliver over and over again unless we build a more effective firewall to keep big money and politics away from the judicial branch."
Dick Batchelor, former Democratic state representative and spokesman for Defend Justice from Politics: “We can only hope that our elected leaders get the message and bring the unprecedented assault on our fair and impartial courts to an end. The Republican Party of Florida abandoned all plausible deniability of the purely political motivations by supporting removal of three honest and able Supreme Court Justices. Floridians must remain vigilant and demand respect for the balance of power between our three branches of government.”
Sandy “Talbot” D’Alemberte, FSU professor and president emeritus and former American Bar Association president: “The need for a fair and impartial judiciary far outweighs individual disagreements with any specific opinion. Voters understood the question that was put to them – and came down on the side of fair and impartial courts.”
Lewis: “The very foundation of Florida’s independent judicial system was threatened in this election. I am grateful that Florida voters once again demonstrated their faith in our fair and impartial judicial system and I extend my thanks and great appreciation to those Floridians who both assisted in the retention effort and those who voted for retention.”
Pariente: “The judicial branch in Florida is one of the most highly regarded in the nation. Florida voters have made it clear that they are determined to keep it that way. I want to thank the many Floridians who stood up against the attack on the impartiality of our justice system.”
Quince: “Floridians care deeply about ensuring that we have a fair and impartial judiciary untainted by partisan politics. Tonight, I want to thank Florida voters who renewed their faith in our merit selection and retention system.”
Stanley Tate, a Miami-area builder and board member of Defend Justice from Politics, an organization created to support the justices: “Regardless of where they may come down in the political spectrum – the election results demonstrate one thing they agree on: Politics has no place in our courts. The question put to voters was about far more than the individual Justices up for retention – it was whether our courts should be answerable to the law, or to politicians. All Floridians benefit from a system where rulings are based solely on the law without concern for political retribution, and today they voted to keep it that way.”