Governor Ron DeSantis exceeded his authority when he appointed an ineligible person to the Florida Supreme Court. That was the court’s ruling last month regarding incoming Justice Renatha Francis, who has not been a member of the Florida Bar for ten years. But the court did not invalidate her appointment.
On Tuesday the State Supreme Court gave DeSantis until Wednesday to answer why the court should not immediately require him to replace Francis and fill the Supreme Court vacancy from a list of candidates he received in January.
In the words of the order from the Florida Supreme Court:
Thompson’s motion for rehearing is denied. Her motion for leave to amend is granted. In light of the legal analysis in our August 27 decision and the authority of Pleus v. Crist, 14 So. 3d 941 (Fla. 2009), the Governor is ordered to show cause why he should not be required immediately to fill the vacancy in office of justice of the supreme court by appointing a candidate who was on the JNC’s certified list of January 23, 2020, and is now constitutionally eligible for appointment. The Governor shall respond by Wednesday, September 9, 2020. If Thompson chooses to reply, she must do so by Thursday, September 10, 2020. It is so ordered.
“Thompson” is State Rep. Geraldine Thompson, who wanted the list of potential nominees provided to the governor discarded and instead have a new list provided to make a new appointment. Last month the Florida Supreme Court said the proper request would have been to have DeSantis make a new pick from the original list.
On Tuesday the court denied Rep. Thompson’s motion for a rehearing.
A May 2020 email from the governor’s office announcing Francis’ appointment said, “Francis will officially take her seat on the Supreme Court on September 24, 2020.” That’s after her ten-year anniversary with the Florida Bar.
Francis was born in Jamaica.
Like other nominations by DeSantis, Francis is affiliated with the Federalist Society.
information from the Associated Press was used in this report