TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Supreme Court blocked the appointment of Renatha Francis to the state’s Supreme Court on Friday, ruling she was out of the question for the job, and stopped the election of Governor Ron DeSantis for the second black woman ever in Body was active.
The ruling interrupts a month-long legal battle marked by racial politics and unusual alliances and is likely to force the Republican governor to choose another judge for the court.
DeSantis tapped Francis to fill one of two open positions in May, singling out the Palm Beach County judge, a Jamaican-born black woman, as evidence of his commitment to bringing diversity to the court.
But Francis, who would have been the only sedentary black justice system, was quickly scrutinized because she hadn’t been a member of the Florida Bar in 10 years, which is required by the state constitution. MP Geraldine Thompson (D-Orlando) filed a lawsuit against Francis’ election, setting up the multilayered political drama and eventual rejection on Friday that admonished the governor over his legal arguments.
The unanimous decision was a clear blow to a Republican governor by a court widely touted as conservative. Judge John Couriel has withdrawn from the case. DeSantis attempted to sway the judges by arguing that Francis’ election was an “announcement” rather than a formal appointment, but that logic did not convince the court.
“Both approaches lead to the same conclusion: the governor has not obeyed the clear orders of the constitution,” the statement said.
Contributing to the intrigue of the verdict, which put a large hole in DeSantis’ legal argument, was whoever formulated the argument. The verdict was drafted by Justice Carlos Muñiz, a DeSantis appointee for the court who is also on President Donald Trump’s shortlist for possible future US Supreme Court rulings.
The lawsuit was filed in July, but the political madness only began after a Tuesday ruling that gave DeSantis a day to convince them not to order him to elect a new judiciary.
DeSantis also held a press conference on Wednesday at which the governor was allied with a handful of Broward County Democrats, the political equivalent of dogs and cats coming together. These included Haiti-born House Democrat Dotie Joseph, who helped Francis become the first Caribbean-born judge on the Florida Supreme Court. She tried to allay Democrats’ concerns by arguing that Francis was not cut out of the shape of Clarence Thomas, the conservative black lawyer on the US Supreme Court.
“My colleagues and I at the Florida Legislative Black Caucus have determined that she is not Clarence Thomas,” said Joseph. “While she may be conservative and a member of Federal Society, none of these things in and of themselves disqualifies Judge Francis from deserving our support or our stamp of approval.”
“All Skinfolk are not Kinfolk,” added Joseph von Thomas.
A day later, Thompson hit back and discharged DeSantis for a disingenuous effort to paint critics who constitutionally opposed Francis’ election for speaking out against a black woman who was appointed to court.
“This is one of the worst and most egregious examples of racial tokenism I’ve seen in my life,” Thompson told reporters.
She noted that there were six constitutionally qualified black judges applying for the two vacancies on the Florida Supreme Court, but Francis was the only one referred to DeSantis by the Supreme Court Nominations Committee for the job of to recommend a list of judges to the governor must select from. Only Francis made the final cut.
“You could have chosen more [black judges]”Said Thompson to POLITICO on Friday.” You haven’t. “
The court also reached out to critics who believe that the Florida Constitution’s 10-year lawyer provision is arbitrary and should not be a reason to dismiss a Florida Supreme Court candidate. To underline this point, they used the words of a conservative legal icon: the late United States Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia.
“To some, enforcing such rules may seem unnecessarily formalistic if the result is to exclude the appointment of an otherwise qualified candidate,” the statement said. “But ‘formalism’, as Justice Scalia noted, ‘makes a government a government of law, not of men.'”
DeSantis was a member of Congress in 2016 when Scalia died. He went inside to remember the legal giant and called him “one of the greats in American law”.
The court’s decision on Friday pinned the Supreme Court’s nomination committee tasked with creating a panel of judges from which the governor could choose.
It is one of the most powerful panels in the state. It is headed by noted insurance lobbyist and GOP donor Fred Karlinsky and includes, among its members, Daniel Nordby, former General Counsel of Governor Rick Scott, Jesse Panuccio, who serves in both the Scott administration and President No. 3 was Donald Trump’s Justice Department.
“The JNC itself made the decision to nominate a constitutionally ineligible candidate and is responsible for the consequences of that decision,” the judiciary wrote.
The court has given DeSantis until noon Monday to select one of the seven other judges on the list presented by the commission.
None of the remaining candidates is black.
The rising Conservative lawyer, bringing the legal defense of the governor who appointed him to his knees, sparked a massive press conference at DeSantis and his allies aimed at reinforcing the historical nature of putting someone with Francis’ legacy in front of the Supreme Court of the state.
“@GovRonDeSantis supported women, immigrants and Black Florida residents like Jamaican-American judge Renatha Francis, who is his choice for the @FlCourts,” tweeted Helen Aguirre Ferré, Florida GOP executive director who until recently was DeSantis’ communications director was. On Wednesday.
“[Thompson] Should be ashamed of playing politics and denying the FL Supreme Court the only black female justice, ”she added.