Florida high court again orders governor to pick new justice

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court, in an escalating dispute over an appointee’s eligibility, issued an order Monday demanding Gov. Ron DeSantis comply with its previous order to appoint a new justice to the high court.

The court ruled Friday that DeSantis exceeded his authority by appointing a constitutionally ineligible judge to the high court and told him to pick another judge for the post. They gave him until noon Monday to do so.

“The deadline has now passed. It appearing that the Governor has yet to comply, we hereby … order the Governor immediately to comply with the Court’s order of September 11 and to certify his compliance to the Court by 5:00 p.m. today,” the court wrote in an order released mid-afternoon.

The Republican governor appointed Renatha Francis in May even though she didn’t meet a requirement of being a member of the Florida Bar for at least 10 years. She will meet that requirement on Sept. 24, but the court said DeSantis is required to fill a vacancy on the court within 60 days and he has far exceeded that deadline. Francis was supposed to fill the vacancy of former Justice Robert Luck, who resigned in January.

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Just before 10:30 a.m., DeSantis tweeted, “Today, I’ll be making an announcement about Judge Renatha Francis and the future of the Florida Supreme Court. Stay tuned.” No other details were provided.

Florida governors are required to fill vacancies from a list provided to them by the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission. Friday’s ruling said that DeSantis must pick a new nominee from the original list of seven names, given to him earlier this year.

Francis would have been the first Caribbean-American justice to serve on the court. She was born in Jamaica and moved to the United States as an adult. She currently serves as a circuit judge in Palm Beach County.

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