Commentary: It’s About Power, Not Judicial Accountability, in Florida

A proposal to impose term limits on appellate and Florida Supreme Court judges “is just the latest in a series of naked power grabs” by those intent on reducing judicial independence, two defenders of fair and impartial courts write in the Florida Politics blog.

The opinion comes from Eric Lesh of Lambda Legal and Mark Ferrulo, executive director of Progress Florida. They are members of the Florida Access to Justice Project. The House recently approved the proposal but its prospects in the state Senate are uncertain (see Gavel Grab).

In the commentary, Lesh and Ferrulo catalogue unsuccessful recent efforts at court-packing, ousting veteran justices in retention elections, and giving the governor more power over filling judicial vacancies. They depict the latest bill at an effort by legislators to consolidate power:

“Now, this most recent proposal, which would limit Florida Supreme Court justices and appellate court judges to two six-year terms, is being sold as necessary to ensure ‘accountability.’ But what the bill sponsor and leadership of the House who voted in favor really seek is a little less accountability to the law and a little more accountability to their partisan interests.”

Lambda Legal is a JAS partner organization.