Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Florida House Looks to Pack Supreme Court

Florida House Republicans look to pack the state Supreme Court for, some suggest, advancing a GOP legislative agenda.

According to the Miami Herald, HJR 7111 asks voters to consider a constitutional amendment that would add three justices to the Supreme Court and create two divisions, one for civil cases and one for criminal. The three justices with most seniority, all appointed by a Democratic Governor Lawton Chiles, would go to the criminal side. Republican appointees would remain on the civil side, where legislative issues would be considered. Republican Governor Rick Scott would fill the empty seats.

The measure also calls for the Senate to confirm the governor’s picks, and expands court funding. Sixty percent of Florida voters would have to approve the amendment for it to become part of the Constitution. There is no companion legislation pending in the state senate.

Democrats pointed out that by the court’s own analysis, there is no problem with efficiency, citing figures that show in 2010, nearly 90 percent of cases were resolved in less than one year, reported the Herald.

It’s clear the changes are all about politics,Representative Richard Steinberg to the Herald. Already, he said, there have been “whispers” that Republicans want to put the proposal before voters in advance of the November 2012 general election so the new court would be in place for redistricting.

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