by: John Kennedy Updated:
The group pushing to oust three Florida Supreme Court justices this fall has a new video ad on its site blasting them for taking part in a 2003 ruling ordering a new trial for a Death Row inmate.
The 5-2 decision, which included Justices Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince and Fred Lewis in the majority, was later overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Florida justices had ruled the defendant’s lawyer had wrongfully conceded his client’s guilt without his approval.
But the federal justices said such explicit approval is not always needed.
Jesse Phillips, president of Restore Justice 2012, which has posted the web spot, said, “The court invented a way to give a confessed murderer the second chance at life…Pariente, Quince and Lewis should not defend this decision. They should apologize for it.”
The web ad, which runs more than two minutes, is not likely to appear on television in its current form. So far, only Americans For Prosperity, a tea party-allied organization founded by the billionaire Koch brothers has run a single TV spot condemning the three justices, the last appointed by a Florida Democratic governor.
But the Florida Republican Party has said it will work to unseat the justices. On Monday, the Florida Fraternal Order of Police and Florida Professional Fire Fighters weighed-in supporting the three justices.
“The very foundation of Florida’s independent judiciary is threatened,” said Jim Preston, FOP president. “Partisan politics simply destroys the integrity of the court system.”
While decrying partisan politics, the unions sided with Democrat Alex Sink over Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the last governor’s race. The unions are also awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on a challenge to whether Scott and the GOP-led Legislature violated the state constitution by ordering 3 percent payroll contributions from government workers enrolled in the Florida Retirement System.
Jeff McAdams, legislative chairman for the police union, said Scott is behind the effort to unseat the justices.
Scott has denied any involvement, and McAdams said his view is “my opinion.” But McAdams said Scott would welcome a chance to appoint three new justices to the court.
In merit retention, in place in Florida since 1976, voters get to decide “yes” or “no” whether a justice should receive another six-year term. No justice has been voted off the court since it was introduced.