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Should Florida Change How It Picks Supreme Court Justices?

Daily Business Review
Celia Ampel
Friday, June 23, 2017

"As Florida looks to revise its Constitution, it might do well to switch up the selection and retention process for Supreme Court justices, professors argued at the Florida Bar Convention in Boca Raton.

That's because research shows judicial nominating commissions like Florida's, with some members chosen by the bar, tend to pick judges who are more liberal than the state's population.


Fitzpatrick's research found Florida's justices actually run pretty close to the state's ideological balance, skewing slightly more conservative than the general population. But he would still change the system that gives the Florida Bar's board of governors the power to nominate four of nine members of the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission.

University of Kansas law professor Stephen Ware would do the same. When state supreme courts skew more liberal than the population, conservatives start opposing justices' retention, and then liberals and bar groups charge conservatives with trying to politicize the courts, he said.

'It's not an ideal pattern,' Ware said.

Instead, lawyers need to admit to themselves that political leanings on the bench exist and matter, Ware argued. Therefore, the judicial selection process should be more democratic. He suggested adopting the model federal courts use, with transparent, public Senate confirmations."

Faculty name: 
Stephen Ware