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  1. Florida Politics

Romano: Excuse me Gov. Scott, but you're a hypocrite

When it comes to judicial appointments, Gov. Rick Scott is speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Scott says the U.S. Supreme Court should be above partisan politics, and yet the governor has ignored decades of precedent, court opinions, voter mandates and simple common sense in order to pack Florida courts with conservative judges. [SCOTT KEELER]
Published Jul. 16, 2018

Hypocrisy, thy name is Rick Scott.

And, yes, I owe Shakespeare an apology.

But I think Florida's governor owes all of us an apology.

This isn't about one man's opinion, and it isn't about philosophical differences. This is about a politician who is publicly advocating for one lofty ideal, and quietly doing the exact opposite.

And that, my friends, is inexcusable.

To set the stage:

In his bid this summer for a U.S. Senate seat, Scott has routinely criticized opponent Bill Nelson for being a "rubber stamp'' and voting the party line on judicial appointments.

Nothing wrong with that. Pointing out an opponent's voting record is certainly fair game in an election. And, even though Scott could be accused of being equally partisan, it's not an unusual line of attack.

Except Scott couldn't leave it at that.

On Sunday, while supporting Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court on Twitter, Scott tried to paint himself as a defender of judicial impartiality with this line:

"The Supreme Court is too important to leave up to partisan politics.''

Now, there are a couple of ways to interpret that.

No. 1, Scott is completely delusional.

No. 2, he thinks the rest of us are fools.

For no one in recent Florida history has interjected partisan politics into the state Supreme Court, and the judiciary in general, than Scott.

In case you don't recall, Scott announced last year that it was his intention to pack the Florida Supreme Court on his way out of Tallahassee. Three justices face mandatory retirement on Jan. 8, 2019, which is also the same day Scott's second term as governor ends.

When this situation came up in the 1990s, outgoing Gov. Lawton Chiles and incoming Gov. Jeb Bush agreed to interview candidates before jointly naming a new justice. Republican Gov. Bob Martinez and Democrat Gov. Bob Graham both agreed to allow their successors to make the judicial appointment.

In a 2006 advisory opinion, the state Supreme Court itself determined the incoming governor should make the appointment. And when the Legislature offered a constitutional amendment in 2014 to shift the authority to the outgoing governor, voters soundly rejected the idea.

So instead of siding with more than 30 years of precedent, a Supreme Court opinion and a voter mandate, Scott is raising his middle finger to the rest of Florida.

But he ain't partisan, right?

And that's not the only example. Two circuit judges facing mandatory retirement on Jan. 8 have announced their intentions to instead resign a few days early.

Why is that important?

Because a retiring judge would normally be replaced by voters this fall, with the election winner taking a seat on the bench in January. But since they are resigning, Scott claims he has the authority to appoint a replacement, ostensibly so the seat does not sit empty. Even though it's only a few days.

The state Supreme Court has temporarily blocked this obvious scam.

But Scott isn't playing party games, right?

If this country stands for anything, it is the right to disagree. And every resident should respect a neighbor with a differing point of view.

But how do you respect a governor who says one thing and then does another?

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