An organization supporting three Florida Supreme Court justices facing merit retention this fall began running a TV spot Tuesday blasting the “politicians in Tallahassee” for looking to overhaul the court.
The ad, by Defend Justice from Politics, a political spending committee, is airing a spot in West Palm Beach, Miami and Tampa markets that condemn the push to defeat the last three justices appointed by a Democratic governor. The spot calls it a “political power grab.”
Justices Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince are facing what is shaping up as the most vigorous merit retention fight in Florida history.
A small tea party group, Restore Justice 2012 began criticizing justices last year over decisions that blocked measures pushed by the Republican-led Legislature, but the billionaire Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity also recently weighed in with an ad attacking the court.
When the Florida Republican Party’s executive board voted last month to oppose the justices, that seemed to crank up the merit retention contest to a new level.
Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday he has no problem with the GOP’s decision, although he steered clear of expressing any opinion about the justices being targeted. Another prominent Republican, Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, though, said he was uneasy with the party stepping into the non-partisan retention fight.
Atwater said, “it wouldn’t have been certainly a direction that I would have recommended.”
“We as a party hold certain principles and we look for policies and candidates who are going to shape those with the expectation that justices are going to just constitutionally use good judgment and rule,” Atwater said.
Here’s Defend Justices’ TV spot: http://tinyurl.com/9tmz9eg