Elizabeth Price Foley, a Florida law professor commissioned by the conservative Federalist Society to review nine state Supreme Court rulings in controversial cases since 2000, reached the following conclusion:
“[T]here does not appear to be a pattern of unprincipled decision-making by any of the justices of the Florida Supreme Court. There are disagreements, true. But disagreements do not suggest that those with whom you disagree are unprincipled.”
The Florida Republican Party and conservative groups have targeted three justices who face retention (yes-or-no) election this year, accusing the trio of judicial activism. According to a Tampa Bay Times article, however, the author of the Federalist Society report parted ways with those critics when she talked to reporters in a conference call:
“Opponents who want to accuse them of judicial activism, she said, are ‘going to have a hard time making that label stick.”’
Foley said that her review found that rulings in controversial cases “are in fact supported by some prior precedent and they do involve acceptable methods of legal reasoning.’” She also pointed to tension between the court and the Republican-led legislature.
Foley teaches at Florida International University. In The Florida Current, an article about her study was headlined, “Federalist Society study says Supreme Court justices followed the law.”
Tampa Bay Times columnist Daniel Ruth seized on the Federalist Society report as evidence to assail Restore Justice 2012, a grassroots group that targeted the justices. Ruth wrote:
“Foley’s Federalist Society homework assignment certainly goes a long way toward making the Restore Justice 2012 propaganda campaign look like the petulant ideological power grab that it is.”
You can read a Restore Justice statement about the Federalist Society report by clicking here.
A Tampa Bay Online editorial, meanwhile, denounced a “partisan power play” in attacks on the justices, and it asked, “Do you want a justice calling the political party currently in power to find out the safe way to rule?”