Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Report from conservative group: Florida justices have pattern of principled rulings

TALLAHASSEE — A Florida professor commissioned by the conservative Federalist Society to review controversial cases of the three Florida Supreme Court justices up for merit retention concluded Wednesday that some of the most loaded charges used by opponents against the justices are unfounded.

"There does not appear to be a pattern of unprincipled decision-making by any of the justices of the Florida Supreme Court,'' wrote Elizabeth Price Foley after analyzing nine controversial cases since 2000. "There are disagreements, true. But disagreements do not suggest that those with whom you disagree are unprincipled."

Although the Federalist Society does not take a position in the merit retention races, Foley said in a conference call with reporters that her review found that the controversial rulings "are in fact supported by some prior precedent and they do involve acceptable methods of legal reasoning."

Opponents who want to accuse them of judicial activism, she said, are "going to have a hard time making that label stick.''

Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince are on the ballot in a yes or no vote and, for the first time, the Florida Republican Party has mounted a campaign to encourage voters to reject them.

In a news release last month, the party said there is "collective evidence of judicial activism" against the justices and House Speaker Dean Cannon has accused them of using their rulings to legislate from the bench.

Conservative groups such as Americans For Prosperity and Restore Justice 2012 have also produced television and Web ads critical of the justices and accuse them of activist records.

Foley, a constitutional law scholar and law professor at Florida International University, said she chose cases that have been most frequently used by opponents seeking to oust the justices from the bench.

The goal was to provide "a balanced, honest analysis of the most contentious decisions about which these justices have been in agreement," she said.

Foley said, however, that the rulings should not be the only measure voters use when evaluating the justices in November. Other factors can include their demeanor, judicial education, strength of their judicial analysis and ideology.

Foley also said that the nine cases reveal a tension between the court and the Republican-led Legislature, particularly with its decision to reject constitutional amendments proposed by lawmakers because of misleading ballot summaries.

"The court will often rule one way and say very explicitly to the Florida Legislature you can fix this; you can avoid this problem if you'll only do x, y and z, and then, of course, the Florida Legislature won't do x, y and z,'' she said. "In some instances the Florida Supreme Court does feel somewhat handcuffed" and "wants clearer language."

She said there is a need for "better communication between the Florida Legislature and the Florida Supreme Court" especially as it relates to ballot amendments.

"We need to try as best we can some clear standard for ascertaining when something is misleading or not,'' she said.

Report from conservative group: Florida justices have pattern of principled rulings 10/24/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 11:19pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  2. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended

    Nation

    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Harford County, Md., Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler shows a picture of Radee Labeeb Prince, the suspect in the workplace shootings.
  3. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  4. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — In what was likely the last mayoral forum before the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker started out small, discussing neighborhood issues like recycling and neighborhood funding. They ended tangling over familiar subjects: the future of the Tampa Bay Rays, sewage …

    Ex-Mayor Rick Baker, left, and Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, debated familiar topics. The Times’ Adam Smith moderated.
  5. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners

    Business

    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.