Wednesday, April 25, 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.

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Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Editorial: As USFSP consolidation task force meets, openness and collaboration are key

Writing a new law that phases out separate accreditation for the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and folds it back into the major research university was the easy part. The hard work starts today when a new consolidation task force holds i...
Updated: 2 hours ago

Correction

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Published: 04/23/18
Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Editorial: Pruitt sets new low for ethics at EPA

Not too many people took then-candidate Donald Trump seriously when he famously campaigned to "drain the swamp" as president. But that shouldn’t give this administration a free pass to excuse the behavior of Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Env...
Published: 04/22/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Editorial: Allegiant Air still has safety issues

Allegiant Air’s safety record remains troubling, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s reluctance to talk about it is no more encouraging. Those are the key takeaways from a 60 Minutes report on the low-cost carrier’s high rate of mid-flight brea...
Published: 04/21/18

Editorial: Women’s work undervalued in bay area

Even a strong economy and low unemployment cannot overcome the persistent pay gap affecting full-time working women in Florida. A new report shows women in Florida earned 12.5 percent less on average than their male counterparts, and the disparities ...
Published: 04/21/18
Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Editorial: Florida’s death penalty fading away on its own

Florida lawmakers may never take the death penalty off the books, but stronger forces are steadily eroding this inhumane, outdated tool of injustice. Court rulings, subsequent changes to law and waning public support have significantly suppressed the...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/24/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/23/18
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18