Following her appointment to a constitutional review panel, former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner said she was “truly honored and deeply grateful for the trust Chief Justice (Jorge) Labarga has placed in me.”
On Monday, Labarga announced the Tampa Democrat as one of his three picks for the Constitution Revision Commission. The other two are former Florida Bar president Hank Coxe of Jacksonville and former federal prosecutor Roberto Martinez of Miami.
“The fight for equal justice and equal standing has been at the forefront of everything I’ve done and worked for throughout my entire life,” Joyner said in a statement later Monday. The former Senate Democratic Leader was arrested while picketing outside the whites-only Florida Theater in Tallahassee as a then-college student at Florida A&M University.
“The compact between the people and our government is sacred, and meant to grow to embrace the changes our society demands,” she said. “But it can never lose the basic fundamentals on which our nation and our state were founded, and it can never waiver from defending those rights when confronted by powerful opposition.
“As we see in real time today, the checks and balances encased in both our federal and state constitutions continue to be the lone guardian when rights are threatened or limits to power are trampled,” added Joyner, an attorney. “I am proud to be part of the CRC as we work to maintain that integrity.”
The commission meets every 20 years to review and suggest changes to the state’s governing document. It has convened twice before, in 1977-78 and 1997-98, but this will be the first to be selected by a majority of Republicans, virtually ensuring it will propose more conservative changes to the state’s governing document than previous panels.
Any changes proposed, however, would be in the form of constitutional amendments, which would have to be approved by 60 percent of voters on a statewide ballot.
As governor, Rick Scott will choose 15 of the 37 commissioners, and he also selects its chairperson. Republican Pam Bondi is automatically a member as Attorney General. Representatives for Senate President Joe Negron and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who each get nine selections, have not said when the leaders will announce their decisions.