The Phoenix Flyer

Wheels start turning on process to replace FL Supreme Court justices Lagoa and Luck

By: - November 21, 2019 1:06 pm
Florida Supreme Court

Florida Supreme Court

An advisory commission will confer by telephone on Monday morning regarding the search for candidates to replace Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck as justices of the Florida Supreme Court, the Florida Bar announced Thursday.

The Judicial Nominating Commission scheduled its conference call for 11:30 a.m. Once the justices tender their formal resignations, Gov. Ron DeSantis will cue the commissioners to begin the 60-day screening process.

Eventually, they’ll propose candidates to the governor, who will have 60 days to make his selections.

“At this point it is a preparatory call to discuss process and timing,” said Daniel Nordby, the Shutts & Bowen partner who chairs the commission. “If we receive a formal request to convene from the governor before the meeting, we may discuss more specifics such as setting an application deadline.”

The U.S. Senate this week confirmed Lagoa and Luck for seats on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which considers disputes arising in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. Their elevation gives GOP-nominated jurists a 7-5 majority on the court, with Democratic-appointed judges in the minority.

A press aide to the Republican governor said he’d not yet received Lagoa’s formal resignation – and a spokesman said the Supreme Court hadn’t received notice as of early afternoon that Lagoa had executed her federal oath. Luck has already joined the appeals court.

Lagoa and Luck were among three jurists DeSantis placed on the state’s highest court soon after taking office in January. Their elevation gave the court a solid conservative majority much more likely to support the Republican-dominated Legislature’s and the governor’s priorities on abortion rights, the environment, criminal justice, and more.

As does his political patron President Trump, DeSantis turns to the conservative-libertarian Federalist Society for guidance on judicial appointments (and Nordby himself belongs to the organization). The governor, a Harvard-trained lawyer, has said that he looks for jurists who respect the proper role of judges and defer to legislative authority – and not what DeSantis considers judicial “activists.”


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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal.