FLORIDA -- Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed two new justices to the Florida Supreme Court.
What You Need To Know
- John Couriel and Renatha Francis appointed to Florida Supreme Court
- They are replacing Justices Barbara Logoa and Robert Luck
- More political news
They are Miami attorney John Couriel and Palm Beach County circuit judge Renatha Francis. The two replace two of the three justices DeSantis originally named to the high court shortly after taking office in 2019 -- Barbara Logoa and Robert Luck -- who were both appointed by President Trump last fall to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The move continues the rightward tilt that the court has undergone with DeSantis.
Unlike the executive or legislative chambers in Florida over the past two decades, the Florida Supreme Court had been liberal leaning for a generation. But that all changed in January of 2019, when three liberal leaning justices were forced to step down due to the state’s mandatory retirement age law of 75.
“The Florida Supreme Court protects the people’s liberty. And part of doing that is respecting the limited role that judges play in our constitutional system of government,” Francis said. “As judges, we exercise neither force nor will, but merely judgement, and so we apply the law as written by the people’s duly elected representatives.”
Francis is the first Caribbean-American to be named to the Florida high court. Black lawmakers had been pushing for such a selection by the governor following the departure of Justice Peggy Quince last year, leaving the Supreme Court without a black justice for the first time in over three decades.
John Couriel comes from a Miami-based law firm, and previously made two attempts to serve in the Florida House of Representatives.
“You’ve heard it said that Alexander Hamilton said courts have neither force nor will, but merely judgement, and sometimes a good audience. Governor, my prayer today is that your judgement will be good, and my judgement will not let you down,” he said today.
Christian conservative activist John Stemberger championed both of DeSantis’ selections. In a statement, he compared Francis to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
“I know her personally and she is also clear on the limited and restrained role of the court and is a ‘textualist in the tradition of Clarence Thomas in her judicial philosophy.”
Francis may not actually be seated on the court for a number of months. The Florida Constitution requires a Florida Supreme Court Justice to be a member of the Florida Bar as a lawyer for at least 10 years. Judge Francis’ bar membership began on September 24, 2010, which means that she could not fill the seat until later this year after September 24, 2020.