The host committee for the campaign fundraiser at the DoubleTree
Hotel here in June included former Gov. Reubin Askew, five former
Supreme Court justices and some of Florida’s most prominent lawyers and
But unlike most Tallahassee political gatherings, the
beneficiaries were not politicians. They were three justices of the
Florida Supreme Court: R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente, and Peggy
Quince, who each face yes or no votes in next month’s statewide merit
The justices have now rid their robes to play
politics in response to what has become the most politically-charged
merit retention election in state history. They are fighting for their
judicial lives as they fend off attacks from several conservative groups
who want them booted from the high court’s bench.
In Florida, tea party groups and the Republican Party of Florida
are targeting justices, with one conservative group even financing
To combat the attacks, the justices have hired
political consultants, created web sites and established political
committees to raise money. Their supporters have raised at least
$330,000 for each justice — more than most candidates running for the
The once sleepy, non-partisan, merit retention campaigns are now expensive political battles.
had to speak out and educate, otherwise the attacks would go
unanswered,’’ Quince explained to voters at a forum at Florida State
University College of Law on Friday. More here.