The Florida Supreme Court ruled Monday that Governor Rick Scott “exceeded his authority by directing the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission … to submit its nominations to fill” three upcoming Florida Supreme Court vacancies prior to the end of his term.
The Florida Supreme Court cited Article 5, Section 11 (c) of the Florida Constitution in saying that Scott could only fill a judicial vacancy once the justice has left his or her position.
The governor who is elected in the November 2018 general election has the sole authority to fill the vacancies that will be created by the mandatory retirement of Justices Barbara J. Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince, provided the justices do not leave prior to the expiration of their terms at midnight between January 7 and January 8, 2019, and provided that the governor takes office immediately upon the beginning of his term.
Scott is term-limited for governor and is the current Republican nominee for the Florida Senate running against Senator Bill Nelson this November. Scott is set to step down in January. The winner of November’s gubernatorial election between Ron DeSantis and Andrew Gillum will fill the vacancies.