The Florida Supreme Court is not a rubber stamp for the Republican Party — indeed, they recently tossed out a wildly unconstitutional ballot initiative attempting to nullify part of the Affordable Care Act. This fact greatly upsets Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon (R), who would much rather have the court unquestioningly do his Party’s bidding than have them actually follow the law. So Cannon is now pushing a court packing plan that will effectively neutralize the court’s Democratic members:
The measure would add three new justices to the court, all of whom would be named by Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Then it would go one step past Roosevelt by dividing the court in two. The three most senior justices — all, coincidentally, appointed by a Democratic governor — would be consigned to a new criminal division.
This would ensure a conservative-leaning majority on a new civil division, where pivotal cases involving the drawing of new voting districts will land next year. Republicans cite all sorts of reasons for expansion, such as needing to cut the court’s heavy caseload. They ignore the fact that the court’s caseload is now the lowest in a decade.
The Florida GOP’s effort to effectively turn its states’ judiciary into a sock puppet for Rick Scott is just one part of a nationwide campaign by the far right to ensure the only way to win a case in court is to be powerful and privileged. In the Wisconsin Supreme Court race earlier this month, corporate interest groups — including groups with close ties to the Kochs — massively outspent the conservative incumbent’s opponents. One corporate lobbying group spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to reward incumbent Justice David Prosser after Prosser allowed them to write the court’s “justice for sale” ethics rules.
Similarly, anti-gay hate groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars last year to depose three of the seven justices who joined a unanimous marriage equality opinion in Iowa. Florida Tea Partiers tried to depose two justices to punish them for keeping the unconstitutional nullification initiative off the state’s ballot. And GOP senators have systematically blocked President Obama’s judicial nominees while ramming President Bush’s most pro-corporate judges through the confirmation process.
A judge’s job is to follow the law, not to bend the law to suit a partisan agenda. Sadly, this rule of law just isn’t good enough for the GOP.