by Patrick Gaffney

The Florida Supreme Court has ruled against Governor Rick Scott in his attempt to appoint the successors for three retiring Florida Supreme Court Justices.  Governor Scott is also reaching the end of his term as Governor on January 7th.

As long as his successor takes the oath ahead of time and does the necessary paperwork, and the three retiring Florida Supreme Court justices don’t leave before the end of their terms, then Gov. Rick Scott cannot choose the replacements for the three departing justices.  That job will fall to the next governor.

The order apparently clarified one issue — when the outgoing justices’ terms end. Scott had contended he had the authority to make the appointments on January 7. The order said the terms end the moment January 8 begins.

Attorneys for Scott, who contended that he had the appointment power, filed an unsuccessful motion to disqualify Justice Pariente in the case.  They argued that Justice Pariente should have been disqualified because of comments she made that were caught on a “hot mic” after oral arguments in the case.  The Scott administration alleged the comments could indicate a bias against the governor. That motion was denied.

This ruling puts to end a controversy that has placed tension between the executive and judicial branches of government.

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