An independent judiciary is to tyrants as sunlight to vampires - Martin DyckmanAs you may well know, our Florida state legislature is overwhelmingly Republican (even though our state has more Dems). On top of that, we have the worst, most radical, most tea-party aligned governor in the nation who rightfully has the lowest approval ratings of any governor in modern history.
The only thing that has kept our state from sinking into complete tea party excrement is the Court system. Our Florida supreme court is evenly balanced, and they have been a voice of sanity in this crazy state. And boy have they paid a price. From having their funding cut, to REPEATED legislative attempts to curb their authority, to the current disastrous Amendment 5 on the ballot this year that would give the Legislature direct authority over the courts! (Dear God, people.. VOTE NO ON ALL FLORIDA AMENDMENTS THIS YEAR!!)
But the most cynical and devasting attack would be the removal of three sitting state supreme court justices who have previously ruled against governor egghead. They have CONSISTENTLY, for two years, been the target of the governor and his right-wing ally's wrath: Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince. If Scott is successful in getting rid of them this election, he will get to replace all of them....
This is why Scott has been hellbent on removing them from the bench. There have been THREE blatant attempts so far to get rid of them:
- The first came when Tricky Ricky worked with the GOP legislature to divide the court in two branches, and pledged to put these THREE judges (who have been there the longest) on a newly created "criminal division". Almost worked but it fell apart at the end.
- The second came when Gov Scott attempted to smear these particular justices by ordering state law enforcement to investigate if they used court employees to help prepare election documents. This is common practice among all judges; and they were cleared of any wrong doing. Rick Scott was furious.
- Now #3. The Florida GOP, in an unprecedented partisan assault, voted last week to formally oppose these three Supreme Court justices during their merit retention this Fall. They said they were "extreme" and cited their disapproval in a nine-year old murder case (yeah, right). Up until last week, there was only a shadowy tea party group, Restore Justice 2012, whose sole purpose has been to push these three justices off the bench. But the FL GOP adds more funds and muscle.And now, the Koch Brothers have gotten into the act.
Those two greedy bastards are spending millions to run attack ads against the justices. Again, unprecedented. Their front group, Americans for Prosperity, released the first of what they said would be series of ads. If you care to see it, look just below. The attack is some garbage about the Supreme Court rejecting a proposed constitutional amendment against Obamacare. (BTW, the three justices were joined by two others in ruling that the non-binding amendment included a misleading summary that made numerous promises such as ensuring "access to health care services without waiting lists".)
This merit retention system of judges was put in place to keep the stateâs high court above politics. The intent was never to try to pack the court with ideologues.
This is so bad that even JEB Bush came out against it. (He's a saint in Florida politics.) Other Republicans have called this out for what it is. The former RPOF chairman said this action should scare Floridians to death. All the newspapers, the other Supreme Court justices, along with 23 former presidents of the state bar, have also all decried this as a power grab. (To which Rick Scott would say, "well duh...")
Please HELP! Destroying the Court will give Scott unlimited power, and my state can't handle much more. This is perhaps the most important statewide election this year, and the GOP is counting on people not being too engaged on this.
This merit retention election will determine whether Scott gets two more years in office... or two decades of his bitter legacy!!
Websites for the justices:
Finally, here's a sticker for your car. First time I used zazzle. If I get any royalties, I promise it will go to help fight for these folks. (I think it's just a few cents per sticker, but I'll kick in a few bucks as well. The goal here is awareness anyway.)
In a way, Rick Scott IS on the ballot this year. EVERYONE who votes for Obama and Nelson, please vote YES to retain all the FL Supreme Court justices this election!