Florida governor demands justice’s disqualification for comment caught on live microphone


Lawyers for Florida Gov. Rick Scott are seeking the disqualification of a state supreme court justice in a judicial appointments case partly because of a comment she made on a live microphone after oral arguments.

The lawyers contend the Nov. 1 comment by Justice Barbara Pariente raises doubts about her ability to decide the case impartially, report the Orlando Sentinel, the News Service of Florida, the Associated Press and Sunshine State News, which links to the motion for disqualification. (PDF).

Pariente was caught making the comment “crazy” as she pointed to a document listing members of the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission. The governor’s general counsel, Daniel Nordby, is among the lawyers signing the motion and a member of the nominating commission.

The justice’s comment apparently referred to Scott or to his appointees to the commission, the motion says.

The recusal motion also cites a campaign event comment in which Pariente reportedly said a vote against her retention “will give Gov. Scott the right to make his appointments, which will result in partisan political appointments.”

The case challenges Scott’s authority to appoint three new justices on the day he leaves office in January 2019. Pariente and two of the court’s other more liberal justices will be forced to retire that day because of age limits. Scott’s appointments could result in the seven-member court having six conservative justices.

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