WOMEN AND MINORITY LAWYERS ASK FLORIDA SUPREME COURT TO EXTEND APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR SUPREME COURT VACANCIESFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Iris A. Elijah, Public Relations Director
Florida Association for Women Lawyers
On November 2, 2018, the Supreme Court of Florida (“Supreme Court”) permitted the Florida Association for Women Lawyers (“FAWL”), the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. Bar Association, the Caribbean Bar Association, the Gwen S. Cherry Black Women Lawyers Association, the Daniel Webster Perkins Bar Association, the Haitian Lawyers Association, the Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter National Bar Association, the Fred G. Minnis Sr. Bar Association, and the George Edgecomb Bar Association (collectively referred to as “Amici”) to appear as amici curiae (friends of the court) in League of Women Voters of Florida, et al v. Rick Scott, Governor, et al. The Amici filed an Amicus Brief to express support for the extension of the application deadline for the three (3) pending vacancies in the Supreme Court.
The nine (9) Amici submitted the Amicus Brief to express support for extending the application deadline until at least the end of November 2018. The Amici believe a diverse pool of applicants is of critical importance. The current applicant pool is not sufficiently representative of women and minorities. Of the fifty-nine (59) applicants, only eleven (11) are women, six (6) identify as African American, and six (6) as Hispanic. If the application deadline is extended until the declaration of the next Governor who will make the appointments, the Amici are aware of highly qualified women and minorities who will apply.
The Judicial Nominating Commission (the “Commission”) set a deadline of October 8, 2018 for persons interested in filling the Supreme Court vacancies to submit applications. At the time of the deadline, Governor Scott announced his intention to make the appointments with the Governor-elect. The Commission announced it would conduct interviews of the candidates on November 2-8th and certify nominations on November 10, 2018 at the earliest. On October 15, 2018, the Supreme Court issued an interim order ruling that the next Governor will make the appointments. On October 26, 2018, the League of Women Voters filed an emergency supplemental petition asking the Supreme Court to order the Commission to accept new applications, prohibit the Commission from taking any other action until January 8, 2019, and prohibit Governor Scott from taking any further action.
These nine (9) non-partisan voluntary bar associations speak with a unified voice in support of increasing the diversity of the Supreme Court of Florida, which has only ever had three (3) women and four (4) African American justices in its 170 plus year history. Seven (7) appointments have been made in the last 20 years—none of them women. By appearing, the Amici hope to see a Supreme Court that is reflective of the diversity of the citizens of Florida.