Republicans are about to reap something they have dreamed about for a VERY, VERY, VERY long time. Control of the Florida Supreme Court, an institution that has vexed them for the past 30 years.
Three liberal Justices are facing mandatory retirement on January 8, 2019, due to the the 70 year age limit, which ironically goes to 75 on July 1, 2019, due to passage of a Constitutional Amendment.
A merit selection panel appointed by Governor Scott has evaluated about 59 applicants and narrowed the field down to 11 choices, from which incoming Governor DeSantis must choose.
Five of the Supreme Court seats are District seats, meaning one Justice must be selected from each of the Districts, while the other two seats are at-large and may be selected statewide. After the three retirements, there will be no incumbent for the Third District, meaning that one of the new Justices must come from the Third District, the other two can come from statewide. The finalists for the two at-large seats are bundled together, with the finalists for the Third District seat separate.
Finalists for two at-large seats: (DeSantis must pick two of these.)
- Jonathan D. Gerber: Chief judge of the 4th District Court of Appeal in West Palm Beach. He was appointed by then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist in 2009.
- Jamie Rutland Grosshans: Judge on the 5th District Court of Appeal in Daytona Beach, appointed by Scott earlier this year.
- Jeffrey T. Kuntz: Judge on the 4th District Court of Appeal appointed by Scott in 2016.
- Bruce Kyle: Circuit judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit in Fort Myers and former Republican Florida House representative from 1998 to 2006.
- Timothy D. Osterhaus: Judge on the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee and former state Solicitor General appointed by Scott in 2013.
- Samuel J. Salario Jr.: Judge on the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Lakeland appointed by Scott in 2014.
- Anuraag Singhal: Circuit judge in the 17th Judicial Circuit in Fort Lauderdale appointed by Scott in 2011.
Three candidates for 3rd Appellate District seat on Supreme Court: (DeSantis must pick 1.)
- John Daniel Couriel: The other non-judge on the list, he is a former federal prosecutor and now an attorney with the Kobre & Kim law firm in Miami.
- Barbara Lagoa: Judge on the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush in 2006.
- Robert J. Luck: Judge on the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami appointed by Scott in 2013.
*Carlos Muñiz, former chief of staff to Attorney General Pam Bondi, who is now President Donald Trump’s appointee as general counsel to the U.S. Department of Education. (The article is unclear as to whether he is an at-large candidate or Third District candidate.)
The end results that the Florida Supreme Court will likely swing, in one shot, from a 4 to 3 liberal majority to a 6 to 1 conservative majority.
This is perhaps the biggest reason Republicans were so desperate to win the Governors race this year. Obviously, an Andrew Gillum appointed court would have looked very different.