Monday, June 18, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Bring clarity to Florida high court terms

What is at stake in this year's race for governor goes beyond whose vision of education funding prevails or what the state's transportation plan should look like. The next governor may remake the Florida Supreme Court. Four of the seven justices on the court will reach the mandatory retirement age over the next four years. But the judicial retirement language in the Florida Constitution sets up a potential conflict between the outgoing governor and the incoming governor in appointing replacements, and the rules should be clarified.

The Florida Constitution sets the retirement age for justices at 70 years old. However, if a justice is more than halfway through a six-year term, he or she can opt to wait to retire at the end of the term. Justice James E.C. Perry, appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist in 2009 when he was a Republican, will turn 70 this month. But Perry won't have to retire until the end of his term in January 2017.

The potential conflict arises in appointing replacements for Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince. Each will turn 70 over the next four years but won't have to retire until January 2019 — the end of their terms and the moment when the next governor's term expires.

Pariente, Lewis and Quince were all appointed by former Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat, and occupy the more moderate side of the court. If Republican Gov. Rick Scott is re-elected, those justices could choose not to leave before his second term is up. Scott could attempt to name their successors early, leading to a lawsuit that ultimately would be decided by the justices themselves. That would be unduly messy and raise conflict of interest questions.

In 1998, Justice Ben Overton timed his retirement to try to give incoming Gov. Jeb Bush the appointment instead of Chiles. A lawsuit was averted when Chiles and Bush agreed to jointly appoint Quince.

Voters should change the Florida Constitution to either set a mandatory retirement age at 70 without regard to when a term ends or to give the sitting governor the power to make those end-of-term judicial appointments. Supreme Court seats would not remain vacant while a new governor is getting up to speed, and justices would be less prone to try to tie their retirement to election results.

Comments

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBI’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but it’s also suppression

The Supreme Court’s ruling last Monday to allow Ohio’s purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they haven’t voted, Ohio’s purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Editorial: Free rides will serve as a test of whether the streetcar is serious transportation

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to ride for free?This fall, the TECO Streetcar Line eliminates its $2.50-a-ride-fare, providing the best opportunity yet to see whether the system’s vintage streetcar replicas can serve as a legitimate transportation a...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

AT&T and the case for digital innovation

A good way to guarantee you’ll be wrong about something is to predict the future of technology. As in, "One day, we’ll all …" Experts can hazard guesses about artificial intelligence, driverless cars or the death of cable television, but technologica...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

Editorial: State, nonprofits share obligation to help Hillsborough’s foster kids

The Florida Department of Children and Families has correctly set a quick deadline for Hillsborough County’s main child welfare provider to correct its foster care program. For too long the same story has played out, where troubled teens who need fos...
Published: 06/14/18
Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

Editorial: Educate voters on Amendment 4 and restoring felons’ rights

This fall voters will have 13 constitutional amendments to wade through on the ballot, but Amendment 4 should get special focus. It represents a rare opportunity to rectify a grievous provision in the Florida Constitution, which permanently revokes t...
Published: 06/13/18
Updated: 06/14/18
Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

Editorial: How Florida and the Trump administration are tampering with your health care

The Trump administration just can’t stop sabotaging Americans’ access to health care. Instead of giving up after it failed to persuade Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it continues to quietly undermine the law in ways that would reduce acc...
Published: 06/12/18
Updated: 06/15/18