In an editorial published by the St Augustine Record this morning, I take exception to the premise that the Republican Party is using its influence to intimidate Florida Supreme Court justices to make decisions they like — or pay a political price.
Overlooking the Freudian slip in the editorial’s title, (I realize the writer wasn’t outraged over “intimate justices”), Historic City News readers have come to expect an overtly-liberal cynicism from the newspaper’s editor; despite the fact that he is a “registered” Republican … but, then again, Ken Bryan and Joe Boles are “registered” Republicans these days.
You won’t get an argument out of me that the way we seat justices could be improved, it can. However, until the legislature changes the laws, through a political process that is representative of the wishes of the people, what we have is what we have — and it is not appropriate to point a finger of blame toward a political party because they are working within the system as it currently exists.
Hate the game, not the player.
As a member of the “fourth estate” and a conservative, I respect the balance afforded by a separation of the judiciary from the legislative and executive branches of government. That said, there should always be a means for the people, who grant all powers to the government, to express their satisfaction, or, dissatisfaction, with those who sit in judgment of the citizenry. For hundreds of years, we have accomplished that through a political process, at the ballot box.
Juries represent the people — so should the jurists. In criminal trials, it is always “The people of the State of Florida vs ….”.
Just because a white-haired man wearing a black dress stumbles onto the bench, does not mean that he will rule fairly or impartially, or, that he should remain there indefinitely. He should at all times be accountable to the people for his actions.
Does The Record believe that The Florida Bar or its judicial nominating committees are not political? How about the Governor who makes judicial appointments from those candidates? All political.
The Florida Bar does support retention of the sitting justices — and so does the editor of The Record. They are publicizing that support through a political process.
The Republican Party of Florida does not support retention of the sitting justices. They are publicizing that lack of support through a political process.
The Record asks,
“Where are the constitutionalists?”
“Where are the state’s top lawyers?”
“Where are the circuit and county judges?”
“Where are their voices of protest?”
I see it this way. If you are the only one in the room who feels outraged, maybe you’re the one who is out-of-step with the will of the people.
© 2012, St Augustine. All rights reserved.