Florida’s federal judicial shortage could affect immigration, voting and abortion rights

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Florida is short four federal trial judges, with as many as six by the end of the year, according to the Center for American Progress.

In a report by Rick Stone of NPR affiliate WGCU, the lack of federal judges in the state could leave some serious cases unheard. 

“Conservatives are really good at making a political priority of the courts, getting judges on the bench and using judges to get outcomes they want but can’t get through the ballot box,” says Andrew Blotky, who represents the progressive Center. “Progressives historically haven’t been as good at that, so we’re trying to change that.”

Blotky is crossing the state, making his case for more judges to activists and lawyers. His goal is to get them to deliver the message to voters, as a way to entice President Obama to select more judicial candidates, and the Senate to step up confirmations.

The lack of federal judges could have a detrimental effect on critical issues such as immigration, abortion and voting rights. 

Lawyers wanting to move into the federal judiciary should begin by applying for jobs as public defenders or assistant U.S. Attorneys, said former Justice Joseph Hackett. He was speaking Wednesday in a Miami legal seminar. Hatchet was a State Supreme Court justice, leaving to join the federal appeals court bench and eventually retiring as Chief Judge of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.