Florida Supreme Court Justices Peggy Quince and Barbara Pariente donated about $30,000 to a liberal activist group that opposed Governor Rick Scott’s appointment of Alan Forst to the Florida 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach. Credit goes to Sunshine State News for the investigation and report.
Forst’s appointment was opposed by the left-wing group “Democracy at Stake”, which was founded to support the retention campaigns of Pariente, Quince, and R. Fred Lewis.
Their basis for opposition? Forst’s self-identification as a “conservative”, and his lack of trial court experience, which brings us to Hypocrisy Check #1:
Apparently it was no problem for Democracy at Stake that Pariente, Quince and Lewis had no trial court experience before their appointments to appeals courts, or that as SSN reports, Lewis had “no judicial experience at all before his appointment to the Supreme Court.”
Just after winning retention to the Supreme Court in November, Pariente and Quince donated $23,000 and $5,922.65, respectively, from their leftover campaign accounts to Democracy at Stake contr… which brings us to Hypocrisy Check #2:
“During last year’s campaign, these justices defended their retention and selection process and complained about the effects of putting money into it,” Jesse Phillips, president of Restore Justice, a group that opposed the justices’ retention, told SSN. “And now that they’ve been retained, we’re starting to see that was just rhetoric.”
Phillips’ point: When citizens organize and express their right to shape our government, Pariente and Quince condemn, but when given the opportunity to use their leftover campaign funds to shape the outcome of the courts, no biggie.
But the real issue, of course, is that sitting Supreme Court justices have diverted campaign funds with the hope of influencing the selection of a judge to an appellate court. Indebtedness or collusion between judges in connected courts can’t be a good thing, either in practice or appearance.
Notes: Forst will fill the seat vacated by the retirement of Judge Fred Hazouri, also Justice Pariente’s husband; Justice Lewis donated just under $4,000 of his leftover campaign funds to a charity that provides legal education programs for young people.