Meredith Sasso is pictured with Gov. Ron DeSantis and her children in this photo released on May 23, 2023, following her appointment to the Florida Supreme Court. Credit: governor’s office
The Florida Supreme Court’s newest justice is Meredith Sasso, a Cuban American, formerly an intermediate state appellate justice who becomes the third woman now sitting in the seven-member court.
Gov. Ron DeSantis announced the pick without fanfare via a press release on Tuesday, in contrast to the press conferences he’s used to announce past appointments to the state’s highest court.
When Sasso takes her seat, it will mark the first time in Florida history that three women have served on the court at the same time, according to the governor’s press office.
“I am proud to appoint Judge Meredith Sasso to the Florida Supreme Court because her fidelity to the Constitution will help preserve freedom in our state for generations to come,” DeSantis said in a written statement. “As a Cuban American woman who understands the importance of our constitutional system and the rule of law, Judge Sasso will serve our state well.”
“I am incredibly honored that Gov. Ron DeSantis is entrusting me with this position,” Sasso said. “The judiciary plays a critical and unique role in our constitutional government, and I am resolutely committed to upholding the rule of law for as long as I am privileged to serve.”
Sasso, previously chief judge of the newly created Sixth District Court of Appeal in Lakeland, replaces former Justice Rick Polston, who resigned in March to become general counsel and chief legal officer at Citizens Property Insurance Corp., the state-backed insurer of last resort. He left just months after winning another six-year term in the November elections.
Women on the court
In September, DeSantis placed former South Florida trial judge Renatha Francis on the court. She is a Jamaican-American whom the governor tried to seat two years earlier, only to see the court reject her for failing to meet the 10-year Florida Bar membership qualification.
The other female justice is Jamie Grosshans, whom DeSantis appointed after the failure of the first Francis appointment.
The Judicial Nominating Commission for the Supreme Court, which vets candidates for that court, on March 5 forwarded the names of six possibilities, including Sasso, to the governor. She can take her seat once the paperwork gets taken care of.
From that perch, Sasso will help decide the validity of Florida’s 15-week abortion ban. In 1989, a more moderate-to-liberal court ruled that the Florida Constitution’s Privacy Clause protected the right to choose an abortion, but now the court, bolstered by DeSantis-appointed conservatives like Sasso, has made a habit of overturning its own precedents.
The law establishing the state’s new six-week abortion ban — a de facto ban on the procedure given that most people don’t realize they are pregnant at that point — is contingent on the court reversing that precedent.
The new justice boasts solid conservative credentials, including memberships in the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, a sort of farm team for the conservative legal movement, and the American Enterprise Institute Leadership Network.
According to information Sasso filed with the screening panel, she’s a Tallahassee native, married, the mother of two. Earlier in her career, Sasso served on the Fifth DCA and as a legal aide to then-Gov. Rick Scott, handling affairs for the departments of State, Education, Management Services, and Environmental Protection. Sasso also worked in private legal practice. She graduated from UF and earned her law degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in 2008, and was a College Republican.
Earlier, Sasso worked in private legal practice.
She graduated from UF and earned her law degree from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in 2008. She was a College Republican. She’s been twice certified to the governor for appointment to the Supreme Court, in 2019 and 2022, although he didn’t select her. She’s been a Federalist Society member since 2011. She’s married to attorney Michael Sasso but the number and names of her children were redacted. She declared $197,272 in net income for 2022 and nearly $1.7 million in assets.
In her application papers, Sasso noted that, on her father’s side, her grandparents left Cuba in 1953. Her maternal grandfather served in the merchant marine during World War II.
“Stories like those of my grandfathers’ drive me. I am constantly mindful that the liberty we enjoy exists because of real people’s incredible sacrifices. And I am resolutely committed to fulfilling my judicial role in the manner for which it was intended: as an integral part of the structure of government created expressly to secure liberty for ourselves and our posterity.”
William Large, president of the Florida Justice Reform Institute, which advocates for limits on lawsuits, welcomed the appointment.
“The governor’s appointment of Meredith Sasso to the Florida Supreme Court cements this promise of appointing justices with a proven record of embracing textualism, and the notion that the courts should interpret our laws, not write them,” Large said in a written statement.
“Justice Sasso is an exceptional choice for the Florida Supreme Court due to her extensive legal experience, dedication to public service, and her strong, demonstrated commitment to upholding justice and the rule of law. We further applaud Gov. DeSantis for his continuing commitment to a Court that can draw on a rich diversity of life experience.”
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