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Senate ready to join Cannon in overhauling Supreme Court; do budget talks start now?

by John Kennedy | April 25th, 2011

Sen. J.D. Alexander disappeared for a while Monday afternoon from the budget committee he chairs — and returned with an amendment that effectively would bring the Senate in line with House Speaker Dean Cannon’s push for an overhaul of the Florida Supreme Court.

“There’s clear concern, particuarly from our friends in the House that this is needed now,” said Alexander, R-Lake Wales.

Alexander earlier talked about his frustration in dealing with House leaders in trying to craft a state spending plan. Alexander said he hadn’t spoken with his House counterpart, Rep. Denise Grimsley, R-Lake Placid, since last Thursday and said budget negotiations may be threatened by his uneasy relationship with Cannon in past wheeling-and-dealing.

But the Supreme Court proposal clearly appears linked to getting budget talks started. Alexander proposed tacking it onto ballot measure affecting Supreme Court rulemaking.

 Similar to a measure already approved by the House, Alexander’s ’idea’ would add three members to the Supreme Court and split it into two divisions — one civil, one for criminal cases. At least 60 percent of voters would have to approve the proposed constitutional amendment for it to become law. 

The state Senate also would gain authority to confirm the governor’s appointments to the court. The Legislature would have more power to repeal court rules, while the Supreme Court would gain a guaranteed level of state funding — topping what it historically has drawn.

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3 Responses to “Senate ready to join Cannon in overhauling Supreme Court; do budget talks start now?”

  1. Tim Finnegan Says:

    This is an assault on the independence of the judiciary. The courts must remain independent of political influence and must base decisions solely on facts and law; there should be no influence from shifts in the popular political winds. We cannot rely on the legislative and executive branches to protect our rights. Get on the phone AND email your representatives and legislators and tell them to scrap this awful idea. If they don’t listen, we must reject this at the polls. Reform of the judiciary should be a slow, methodical, and well-studied process, not a hasty overhaul towards the end of session without thorough analysis of the facts. The Supreme Court is working well. Dean Cannon blasted the Supreme Court in November for what he perceived to be partisanship in the judiciary when the Supreme Court rejected several amendmants due to poor wording this past fall (which was within the Court’s authority since it was brought up from the circuit court and is the Court’s responsibility). Now he is attempting to inject the courts with unprecendented partisanship? You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Speaker. If you meddle with the independences of the Judicial Branch and put OUR RIGHTS in jepeordy, you will pay in the polls next time around. I promise you that. That goes for all legislators! DON’T TREAD ON US!

  2. Bill Newton - FCAN Says:

    Ah, my favorite part of the session — horse trading. That’s where we find out what people really want and what they’re willing to pay. In this case, the Senate wants a reasonable budget, in their eyes, and wants to go home rather than stay in special session. The House offers to accommodate, but only if the Senate accepts Cannon’s plan to “emasculate” or pack the Supreme Court, so that it is the Supreme Legislature, and the courts are merely a reward for old friends who want to be judges.

    This is politics at its finest!

  3. jim Says:

    Whatever happened to the 3 branches of gvt ballancing each other out?

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