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Mitch Perry Report for 9.13.16 — The Florida Supreme Court is about to get a little more conservative

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

During the 2014 gubernatorial race, selecting Supreme Court justices was a campaign issue between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist.

Though Florida’s executive and legislative branches have been fiercely conservative for going on nearly two decades now, the judiciary has not, though that slowly could be changing.

On Monday, Justice James E.C. Perry, the fourth black ever named to Florida’s high court, announced he will be retire from the bench at the end of this year as required by law, giving Scott his first opportunity to appoint a justice.

The liberal bent of the court won’t be felt immediately, as the liberals’ current 5-2 majority will shift to a 4-3 split.

However, three other justices — Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis, and Peggy Quince, all must retire due to the state law requiring justices to retire by the age of 70 (or at the end of their six-year term if they’re halfway through the term).

Perry was named to the bench in 2009 by Charlie Crist, which goes to show you what type of governor Crist was, and why he infuriated Republicans.

Crist had the opportunity to name four judges to the court: Ricky Polston, Charles Canady, Jorge Labarga, and Perry. The first two were white men, the latter were Cuban and black, respectively. Perry and Labarga have also been considered more moderate-to-liberal — showing that he wanted all parts of the state represented.

That’s different than what we expect from most in his position — and the selection of moderate-to-liberal justices enraged conservatives.

Meanwhile, it’s still not known for certain whether Scott will have the legal ability to replace Pariente, Lewis, and Quince when they step down on inauguration day of 2019. But that’s a discussion for another day.

In other news …

With a big vote on controversial new regulations promulgated by the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission scheduled for tomorrow, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and others in the business community told them on Monday to Just Say No.

Andrew Warren is making another charge that Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober has made insensitive remarks about teenage victims of rape.

Do you know who Jeff Zampitella is? He’s a Democrat running against GOP incumbent Sandy Murman in the Hillsborough County Commission District 1 race, but he’s vying for attention of any sort, eight weeks before Election Day.

Following his boss, Joe Biden is also now backing Charlie Crist publicly in his congressional bid against Republican David Jolly this November.

And Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio have agreed to participate in at least two debates and one candidate forum in advance of the Nov. 8 U.S. Senate election.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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