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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

RPOF voted to oust justices but took 'no position' on giving power to Senate



In an interesting turn of events, the Florida Republican Executive Committee that voted to oppose the retention of the three Florida Supreme Court justices in November has also voted to support all but one of the 10 amendments on the ballot.

Which amendment did they take "no position" on?

The board voted to support all but Amendment 5 -- the one that would weaken the governor's powers over the judiciary by requiring that all justices to the Florida Supreme Court, as well as judges to the appellate courts, come before the state Senate for confirmation. The amendment placed on the ballot by legislative leaders as a compromise in a broader effort to reshape the Supreme Court.

Republican Party of Florida spokesman Brian Burgess confirmed the board decided not to vote on the proposal but would not offer a reason why. "It's a grassroots vote,'' he said. He noted that the decisions to oppose the retention of R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince was unanimous. He said he did not know what the vote was on the decision to take no position on Amendment 5.

If the RPOF succeeds and the three justices are removed from the court, Gov. Rick Scott would have the power to appoint three replacements. If Amendment 5 receives 60 percent of the vote and becomes law, his appointees would have to also be confirmed by the state Senate.

If Amendment 5 fails, the existing process would remain in place: a panel of legal experts screens candidates and chooses nominees to send to the governor for each opening on the court. The governor's selects from that list and his appointee would not face a confirmation vote by the Legislature.

[Last modified: Monday, October 1, 2012 1:22pm]


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