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Crist appoints Polston to high court

Polston_2Gov. Charlie Crist filled the bench of Florida's highest court with First District Court of Appeal Judge Ricky Polston this morning to replace retiring Justice Kenneth Bell.

Polston, 52, a native of Graceville, is a graduate of Florida State University law school and undergrad who has presided over more than 6,000 cases on the 1st DCA, the appeals courts that deals with the majority of legislative and executive branch feuds. He is also a certified CPA, was the valedictorian of Graceville High School, is an Elder at the Christian Heritage Church and is now the father of four daughters and six adopted boys. More here.

At a press conference announcing the appointment in front of the governor's mansion, Polston vowed that he "would not legislate from the bench.'' He authored the dissent in the Bush v. Holmes case which threw out former Gov. Jeb Bush's voucher program based on the no-aid provisions of the Blaine amendment. He also authored a case concerning internet access for minors.

This is the second of two appointments Crist will make this year. In September, Crist named Second District Court of Appeal Judge Charles Canady to the post vacated by Miami Justice Raoul Cantero. Canady, a former state legislator and congressman is considered a conservative choice and was heavily promoted by the religious right. He led impeachment proceedings against President Bill Clinton while he was in Congress and was one of the authors of the partial birth abortion bill.

Comments

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Dan Krassner

Governor Crist has identified a fair and honorable jurist in Judge Polston. The appointments of Judge Canady and Judge Polston send a signal to the citizens of Florida that our judiciary system holds great integrity.

Dan Krassner, Florida Chamber of Commerce

Steve Taylor

Great. So now we'll have another judge on the bench who's likely to go along with the Republican voucher scam to suck tax payer money out of the public education system and put it into the hands of business men passing themselves off as good Christians. Great. As if Florida weren't already falling far enough behind the rest of the nation and developed world.

Raquel A. Rodriguez

Judge Polston's appointment is another phenomenal choice by Governer Crist. Judge Polston is a fair, honorable and careful jurist who is not going to let his personal views interfere with proper adminsitration of the law. He and Justice Canady are great additions to the Court.

Alano

Once again, Governor Crist, assisted by his sage GC, has picked an outstanding jurist for a seat on the Supreme Court. Justice-to-be Polston has experience, character and temperment (we'll overlook the mustache). So, he dissented in the voucher case. That's not a reason to claim he's pro-voucher. He determined that the law at issue (passed by the legislature, signed by the Governor) was not at odds with the State Constitution. If Mr. Taylor doesn't like vouchers, he needs to turn his sarcasm against the legislature and the governor and, naturally, against the people of Florida who elected them. A Supreme Court Justice isn't supposed to make public policy. If you have a problem with Judge Polston's legal reasoning when applying the State Constitution to the law, that is worthy of debate. This Governor is picking judges and justices based on their respect for the State Constitution, including the parts establishing the other two branches of Government, and not with an eye on giving the judiciary a veto on public policy with which they philosophically and/or politically disagree. This approach doesn't place Florida anywhere but in the forefront of efforts to restore the proper balance between the three branches of government (whether vouchers work or not is an issue best left to the legislature and the executive, not the courts). Congratulations, Justice-to-be Polston and Governor Crist!

Steve Taylor

"He determined that the law at issue (passed by the legislature, signed by the Governor) was not at odds with the State Constitution."

Fair enough. Legitimate disagreements over matters of interpretation are healthy. But voucher dissent, in my opinion, wasn't a sound one on principle and reveals much about Polston's underlying ideological orientation.

Voucher programs undermine the Florida constitution's explicit requirement for adequately funding and maintaining a uniform public education system by diverting public education funding to the private sector. In times of fiscal hardship and shrinking revenues like Florida currently finds itself facing, it's laughable to suggest that any program specifically designed to take money out of Florida's public school system and put it in the hands of private schools is consistent with Florida's constitutional mandate regarding public education.

There may be good arguments for reform in this area of Florida public policy, but the constitution is clear. The voucher dissent was a clear example of conservative judicial activism, despite what others here might say to the contrary.

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