Republican powerhouses urge GOP to leave Supreme Court justices aloneby Jane Musgrave | October 8th, 2012
Three Republican powerhouses – including a former lieutenant governor candidate and two former U.S. attorneys - tried unsuccessfully over the weekend to get the Florida GOP to reverse course on its pledge to work to unseat three Florida Supreme Court justices.
“The (Republican Party of Florida) was within its legal right to express its position publicly, ” J. Allison DeFoor, Roberto Martinez and Marcos Jimenez wrote in a blunt, yet thoughtful, three-page letter to the GOP executive committee. “But, just because it has that legal right, does not mean it was right for it to do so. The retention of Supreme Court justices should not be turned into partisan political affairs.”
Even though the three offered a less incendiary alternative, GOP bosses said no dice.
DeFoor, a longtime party loyalist who was Gov. Bob Martinez’s running mate in 1990, and the two former top federal prosecutors for the Miami-based district said it’s time to retire the nearly 40-year-old merit retention system.
They are suggesting that justices be appointed for 12- to 15-year terms. Confirmation by the Florida Senate would be required so the public would still have some oversight, said Martinez, who served as an adviser to Republican governors Jeb Bush and Charlie Crist.
The idea for set terms for high court justices didn’t gain any traction with party officials, who are decrying Justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince and Fred Lewis as activist jurists, who are guided by liberal principles, not the law. But, Martinez said, he is hopeful eventually it will.
“I don’t want judges to feel they have to make a decision based on the popularity of their ruling or the fear that they will be subject to partisan attacks,” he said. “That would be horrible.”