The Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) officially sent out a list of six candidates on Monday to replace the Florida Supreme Court Justice Alan Lawsonwho resigned in August, to the governor. Ron DeSantis.

Judge Renatha Francois of the 15th Judicial Circuit in Palm Beach County top of the listand many political observers think she’s certain to be DeSantis’ choice — after all, he’s chosen her before.

Francis was DeSantis’ original choice to fill a previous vacancy, but when he made the selection on May 26, 2020, she was four months short of 10 years of membership with the Florida bar, a constitutional requirement to serve. in the state Supreme Court.

After a legal battle stimulated by the State representative. Geraldine Thompsona Democrat from Windermere, the Florida Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Francis did not meet the constitutional requirements at the time to take a seat on the bench.

Thompson initially asked the court to order the JNC to restart its process, this time including more than one black candidate, since Francis was the only black candidate the first time around and unqualified. But instead, the court simply ordered DeSantis to choose from the JNC’s original list of nominees, and DeSantis chose Justice. Jamie Grosshans.

The court had been without a black member since January 2019, when DeSantis appointed three justices to replace three outgoing justices soon after he took office. One of the outgoing judges was Peggy Quince, a black woman and the only black justice at the time. None of the substitutes were black. DeSantis sought to rectify this by appointing Francis ahead of the court ruling.

The other five nominees are Denise Harle, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative nonprofit advocacy group; Judge Robert Long 1st District Court of Appeals; Judge Anne-Leigh Gaylord Moe of the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County; Judge Meredith Sasso of the 5th DAC; and judge Adam Tanenbaum of the 1st DAC.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the members of the Judicial Appointments Commission for recommending such an exemplary list of strong constitutional lawyers and practitioners,” DeSantis said in a released statement.

“The JNC process is designed to select high quality candidates for our courts. I want to thank the Commissioners for their hard work and diligence. They left me with a tough choice, but I look forward to appointing our next Supreme Court justice in the weeks to come.

The statement from DeSantis’ office, however, said he would not automatically reverse his previous choice of Francis.

“Governor DeSantis is committed to selecting a Florida Supreme Court nominee who has a sharp legal mind and is committed to the constitutions of Florida and the United States,” the statement said. “The Governor will make his selection based on the merit and judicial philosophy of the nominees presented.”


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