Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis has made good choices so far for the Florida judiciary, and the possible ascension of two state Supreme Court justices to the federal appeals bench is not real cause for concern, according to the local director of a national business group.
“It’s still a long way to go for these justices to leave the Florida Supreme Court," said Bill Herrle, state director of the National Federation of Independent Business- Florida. "They need to be approved by the [U.S.] Senate... and that could be a long timetable so it’s not as if they’re vacating the court today or tomorrow.”
Earlier this month, Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck were nominated to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta by President Trump. Both Lagoa, 51, and Luck, 40, were seated on the Florida Supreme Court in January, shortly after DeSantis took office.
Along with Justice Carlos Muniz, DeSantis's first pick for Florida's high court, the three conservative jurists replaced three liberal justices who were forced to retire due to age limits in the state constitution. Consequently, the state Supreme Court’s 4-3 liberal majority tured into a 6-1 conservative majority following DeSantis's election last November.
“Given [DeSantis'] record, which started out very strong in the first couple of weeks of his administration, if his performance continues to reflect his record, we should see two equally qualified justices taking their seats on the Florida Supreme Court,” Herrle said.
Herrle said his organization was proud to see two Florida Supreme Court justices get nominated to the federal appeals bench.
"It speaks to Gov. DeSantis’ judgment in elevating them to the Florida Supreme Court just as much as it does justices Luck and Lagoa,” Herrle said. “They hardly got to wear out their first set of robes before they got nominated to the federal bench.”
Issues of continuity, tort reform and the court’s general outlook loom large for Floridians.
“We’re confident that there are many fine jurists out there and there will be two equally-competent justices available for the governor to choose from," Herrie said. "That’s what we’ll be looking forward to seeing.”