This year, Florida voters will make a critical decision regarding the state’s highest court as three Florida Supreme Court Justices will be facing a merit retention vote. Justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince will be on the ballot in the this November.
Florida Supreme Court Justices do not run for office. Under the Florida Constitution, Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the governor. An appointed justice then serves in that role for six years. At the end of those six years of service, the justice is placed on the ballot to give Florida voters the opportunity to evaluate the justice’s service and decide if that justice should be retained with a “yes” vote, or replaced with a “no” vote. By Florida law, the merit retention election is non-partisan in an attempt to maintain judicial impartiality.
Despite the non-partisan nature of the merit retention election, several groups are making a significant push to increase voter awareness of the process. The Florida Bar Association, Restore Justice 2012, and Democracy At Stake are a few of the groups which have started campaigns to distribute information and educate voters on the importance of participation by Florida voters.
All three of the justices on the 2012 ballot were appointed by former Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat. Quince was a joint-appointment of Chiles and Governor Jeb Bush. According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Peggy Quince, was appointed…by Chiles, although current Gov. Jeb Bush, who was about to take office, approved her selection.”
Cross-posted at Media Matters.