Fla. Gov. rejects many of state bar's judicial nominating commission picks

Florida Gov. Rick Scott apparently has little regard for what the Florida Bar considers a good candidate for a seat on the state’s 26 judicial nominating commissions.

Scott has rejected the bar’s list of recommended nominees 16 times, the Tampa Bay Times reports. His two predecessors, Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush, never rejected any of the bar’s list of nominees.

The governor, who doesn’t have to explain his reasons for rejecting a nominee, has never done so. But his chief counsel, Pete Antonacci, told the newspaper that Scott “wants people with humility” and wants “judges who will follow the law and not make it up as they go along.”

The nominating commissions, which screen candidates for vacancies on the state’s trial and appellate courts, are composed of nine members, five of whom are appointed solely by the governor and four of whom are recommended to him by the bar’s board of governors.

Scott, a conservative Republican, has rejected 48 of the bar’s nominees in all, according to a tally (PDF) kept by the Bar, including some who are registered Democrats, are aligned with liberal causes or are well-known trial lawyers.

Antonacci said lawyers with such backgrounds are more likely to have a “living constitution” view of the law as evolving and ever-changing, which does not correspond with Scott’s views.

“The Florida Bar is not an accountable organization in any electoral way,” he said. “The accountability in the process is with the governor.”

A spokeswoman for the bar said it respects the governor’s right to reject its nominees.

But Deirdre Macnab, president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, criticized the governor for his many rejections.

“This is a pretty blatant example of politicizing the court, and citizens should be concerned … It’s disheartening,” she said.

Hat tip to the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog (sub. req.).

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