Ron DeSantis

DeSantis & son get spruced up

Gov. Ron DeSantis showed off is new do this afternoon, using “before” and “after” pics with his young son, Mason, on Twitter.

DeSantis, who allowed barber shops, beauty salons and nail spas to reopen a week ago, has made frequent mentions of an unruly mop during press conferences leading up to stylists’ relaunch.

“Look, I practically have a mullet. So, I haven’t had a haircut in a long time,” DeSantis said during a May 8 appearance.

 

DeSantis’ COVID-19 accomplishments

Coronavirus-photo-2Gov. Ron DeSantis’ communications director Helen Ferré provided a detailed list of the DeSantis’ administration’s efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida.

Here’s what she had to say in an email last night:

Under Governor DeSantis’ leadership, Florida’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been measured, targeted, and focused on spearheading policies that protect the safety, health and well-being of Floridians during this global pandemic.

* During this global pandemic, Governor DeSantis is in continuous communications with mayors across the state, particularly in the areas of greatest impact such as south Florida.  For example, the four mayors of Miami Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe are in obvious coordination with the Governor in announcing an integrated approach to sheltering-in-place.  In Broward County, Governor DeSantis worked in conjunction with Memorial Health Care System and the Florida National Guard to set up a drive-through testing site where individuals are tested free of charge. This week, Governor DeSantis was in Miami Beach with Mayor Dan Gelber to support the conversion of the Miami Beach Convention Center into a makeshift hospital which can hold 450 beds, including 50 for ICU.  The mobile testing sites that are set up in coordinating with the Florida National Guard is an outcome of working with local officials, hospitals, DEM, and DOH to provide the necessary resources for testing.  Currently, Florida has tested 1 out of 155 residents.  S. Korea which is touted as the model to follow tested 1 out of 200.

* The Governor’s administration is working around the clock to ensure supplies are available, the data is being collected and the needs of the community are met. If you review his public schedule, we have included a file from March 1, you will see his calls and meetings with local, state and national leaders in both the public and private sector.  In addition, since March 1, when the Governor issued Executive Order 20-51 directing the Florida Department of Health to issue a Public Health Emergency, he has held 36 press briefings and gaggles which is 6 briefings per week in less than 6 weeks.

* Secretary Mayhew, and Surgeon General Rivkees have enormous responsibilities handling this public health crisis and their communications directors are handling all inquiries and answering media questions daily.  Secretary Mayhew and her team have visited more than 1000 nursing homes and assisted living facilities to ensure that they are following the proper protocols and to assess needs given the corona virus. AHCA has also made over 2,000 phone calls to provide technical assistance to facilities. Surgeon General Rivkees is on daily calls with hospital associations, long-term care associations, businesses, education partners, county health departments in addition to calls with local and state leaders.

*Department of Emergency Manager Director Moskowitz is directing the largest logistics operations in state history which includes coordinating the shipment of the following to date:

  • 5.2 million masks, including N-95, procedure and surgical masks
  • More than 500,000 face shields
  • More than 725,000 shoe covers
  • 4.75 million gloves
  • 275,000 gowns

*The Governor and his senior management team are in continuous contact with leaders from across the state including mayors, law enforcement, hospital and healthcare professionals, business leaders, faith-based leaders, port directors, educators, and military leadership.  His leadership that has enjoined efforts of the public and private sector to work together within their communities.  FedEx, for example, answered the Governor’s call to use their resources to print, mail, free of charge, applications for unemployment assistance. Local leaders throughout the state have been supported by the Governor, his office, DEM, DOH, AHCA, DOE, DCF ADP, FLHSMV, FDOC and DEP, to name a few.

*Local authorities are invaluable partners in mitigating the spread of this virus.  The Governor has limited the movements of individuals which is not in conflict with local authorities’ ability to adopt requirements directly on businesses or venues that may be stricter than the Governor’s Executive Order. This continuous partnership between local and state officials is helping to provide necessary information to help direct additional services and supplies to areas of greater need.

*Floridians have been by-and-large responsible in abiding by the strict rules for social distancing, teleworking wherever possible and staying at home.  Thousands of parents are assisting their children with virtual school as families have altered their daily behavior.  These are sacrifices that are made for the health and safety of individuals, families and communities, especially our elderly who are the most vulnerable.  Governor DeSantis was one of the first to suspended visitations to nursing homes, assisted living facilities and residences for the elderly.

*Florida has been at the forefront of the timely and transparent dissemination of public health information related to COVID-19. The Florida Department of Health has developed a dashboard (Floridahealthcovid19.gov) that includes COVID-19 positive cases by county, zip code, age, gender, ethnicity, deaths, number of persons tested, hospital and ICU bed availability and percentage of positive cases.  This data is helping determine where resources need to be used to support the health and well-being of residents.  In addition to the dashboard, the state issues a twice daily email alert to ensure the public are aware of the latest available information available online.

*Without a doubt, travel has been a critical factor in spreading COVID-19.  The community spread in New York presents a grave concern for Florida with travel as is the case with other states, such as Louisiana where New Orleans has also seen an alarming increase in numbers of COVID-19 positive patients. Impeding flights to Florida are not within state jurisdiction but those who do come into our state are mandated to self-isolate for 14 days. Those who fly into the main airport of Florida are greeted by the Florida National Guard who ask them to fill out forms for tracking.  FBO’s are also included.  Last week, a charter flight from Teterboro, NJ flew into a small airport in Kissimmee with 11 passengers onboard.  The local DOH office was contacted and sent the Governor’s Executive Order and forms to fill out.  Local law enforcement met the aircraft and ensured all forms were completed.  The procedure is working well and is being emulated by other states. Please see the chart that shows the screening forms collected by airports as of 4/8/2020 which shows nearly 16,000 forms of travelers.  Many are couples traveling together, that would mean approximately 32,000 arriving from areas of community spread.

*A one-size-fits-all solution is not effective in Florida, a large and diverse state, which is why Governor DeSantis has been focused on targeted policies supporting local municipal efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.  For example, Miami Dade County has 5,354 cases, which requires an intense public health response. However, for the 24 less densely populated Florida counties that have 20 or fewer COVID-19 positive cases, such a response would not be in the best interest of local communities.  Not all environments are the same.

Those critical of Florida’s data-driven approach to mitigate and repel COVID-19 perhaps do not understand the science, respect local leaders’ ability to make appropriate decisions for their communities or are using this crisis for political purposes. Regardless, Florida is prepared for the challenges that may await.

UPDATED: Uhlfelder: DeSantis’ lawyer tried to ‘bully me’ into dropping appeal in lawsuit seeking statewide beach closures

deerlake1smUPDATE:

In a lengthy email sent late Thursday night, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ comms director, Helen Ferré, provided a detailed description of the actions the governor has taken since March 1 to address the pandemic.

DeSantis “has been in continuous communications with mayors” throughout the state, had meetings throughout the state with county health officials. His administration “has been working around the clock to ensure supplies are available.” State health officials have visited more than 1,000 nursing homes and had daily calls with health care providers such as hospitals. 

The list went on to include numerous other efforts.

“Those critical of Florida’s data-driven approach to mitigate and repel COVID-19 perhaps do not understand the science, respect local leaders’ ability to make appropriate decisions for their communities or are using this crisis for political purposes. Regardless, Florida is prepared for the challenges that may await,” Ferré said in the email.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ legal team is working around-the-clock as the state struggles to contain the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

They’re so harried that they don’t want to be bothered by a pesky lawsuit over whether the governor should shut down Florida shoreline.

Walton County resident Daniel Uhlfelder, a lawyer who lives in Santa Rosa Beach, filed the lawsuit last month, asking DeSantis to close the state’s beaches and issue an executive order restricting Floridians’ movements.

The Republican governor eventually issued a “safer-at-home” order, but has refused to shut down beaches statewide, for the most part leaving that decision in the hands of local officials.

Leon County Circuit Judge Kevin Carroll dismissed Uhlfelder’s complaint on Tuesday, but encouraged the lawyer to file an appeal, “because I do think this is a matter of importance.”

Nicholas Primrose, DeSantis’ deputy general counsel, apparently disagrees.

Primrose e-mailed Uhlfelder Wednesday afternoon, asking if he had time “to speak about your indication that you will appeal.”

Uhlfelder told The News Service of Florida he expected the governor’s attorney to discuss a settlement about the beach closures.

Instead, Uhlfelder said Primrose tried to convince him to drop his appeal, which he had not yet filed.

Uhlfelder told Primrose that he was moving forward with the appeal.

“He said he wanted me to not appeal, that they would be seeking sanctions,” such as attorney’s fees, Uhlfelder said in telephone interview.

“He said people have told him to file a (Florida) Bar complaint, but he’s not going to do it,” he added.

“The point of the call, it was a threat. It was a threat,” Uhlfelder said. “I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I know when somebody’s threatening me. He was trying to bully.”

But Daniel Nordby, who served as general counsel for former Gov. Rick Scott, told Truth or Dara that he didn’t think Primrose’s comments could be considered threats.

“I think it would be difficult to characterize anything like that as bullying,” Nordby said.

Nordby, who served as chairman of the panel tasked with giving DeSantis a list of candidates to replace two former Florida Supreme Court justices, blasted Uhlfelder’s lawsuit.

“This is a publicity stunt masquerading as a lawsuit. I’m not surprised that the trial court threw out the case, and left these decisions to the executive branch,” Nordby said.

Uhlfelder said Primrose told him “the governor’s not going to close the beaches because he wants people to be able to walk on the beach.”

The Walton County lawyer said allies of the governor “have bullied me and threatened me and called me names” in text messages, emails and phone calls since he filed the lawsuit late last month.

But Primrose’s call was the first time anyone directly working for the governor tried to intimidate him, according to Uhlfelder.

Uhlfelder said Primrose told him that his lawsuit was taking “a lot of time and resources” away from the governor’s legal team’s handling of the COVID-19 situation.

“I said, ‘If you want to take care of the COVID situation, why don’t you close the beaches and get this under control?’ ” Uhlfelder said.

DeSantis’ office did not provide a response, when asked whether Primrose tried to intimidate Uhlfelder into dropping the appeal.

But Uhlfelder, who called the statewide shut-down of beaches “a matter of life and death,” said he isn’t backing down.

“They picked the wrong person to bully,” he said.

“They picked the wrong person to bully,” he said.

DeSantis to Federalists: ‘My swamp is warmer than your swamp!’

With two looming Florida Supreme Court appointments on the horizon, Gov. Ron DeSantis pontificated about judicial overreach, congressional abdication of power, and “originalism” during a speech to The Federalist Society’s National Lawyers Convention last week.

DeSantis pointed out that, in what will be a little more than a year on the job, he will have appointed five justices to the Florida Supreme Court, comparing it to the record of predecessors Jeb Bush and Rick Scott, who together tapped just three justices in their combined 16 years in office.

“Sometimes these things just happen. I think it’s neat,” the Harvard Law School alum told the crowd at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

The governor’s speech begins around 15:45 in the video, or you can jump to the transcription below

President Donald Trump nominated Florida justices Robert Luck and Barbara Lagoa to the 11th U.S. District Court of Appeals, and the Senate is set to confirm Luck later today. Lagoa’s confirmation is expected to come shortly.

DeSantis, who served briefly in Congress before launching his gubernatorial bid last year, began his remarks, as all well-versed speakers do, with a few cracks.

“I am a recovering congressman so people ask me if I’m happy to be out of D.C.,” he said. “Of course I’m happy to be out of D.C. and my swamp is warmer right now than your swamp is. It’s about 75 degrees in Palm Beach.”

The governor, who noted that he had help from the Federalists when making his Supreme Court selections, focused his speech on originalism, a topic that left DeSantis at ease as he rattled off his concerns about the failures of all three branches to properly implement the founding fathers’ intentions.

Originalism and textualism — the concept of applying the Constitution based on the intent of the writers of the document at the time they wrote it — “is the right way to do it,” DeSantis said, referring to court appointments.

“The reason why I think that’s the right way to do it is because you have to have some objective measure to go by. You can’t just be flying off the seat of your pants, philosophizing and imposing whatever idiosyncratic views you have on society, under the guise of constitutional interpretation,” he said. “So originalism provides a mechanism to cabin judicial discretion, which I think is very, very important.”

In his 20-minute speech, the governor demonstrated his Yale and Harvard wonkiness while waxing about Hamilton, Madison and the Federalist papers.

DeSantis said one of his biggest frustrations in Washington was Congress’ reluctance to exercise its power.

“I think the founders were pretty clear about how the constitutional system was arranged and would operate.

You had three separate branches. One branch was not necessarily subordinate to the other, so when they say they were equal, in that sense, they were. But they certainly were not equal in terms of the powers that were assigned to the branches.

There was qualitative and quantitative differences between the branches. Clearly Madison said the legislative authority predominates in a republican system of government.

If you look at the powers assigned in Article 1 of the Constitution, I mean the power of the purse. The executive can do what they want. You take away the money, the executive can’t do it. So the Congress had robust powers and I think the founders viewed the Congress as the focal point in constitutional government.

They thought the executive would have an important role, but that would really depend on the exigencies. Obviously, if you’re engaging in any type of military conflict, the president’s commander-in-chief, in foreign affairs the president had a very important role.

But, ultimately, even though the president could veto acts, the legislature could check that veto by overriding the veto.

So the president was important, but they also had just rebelled against the king and so they did not envision the exuecitve sas it is today with the massive bureaucracy.

And then of course they thought the courts were important but, as Hamilton said, by far the weakest of the three branches, because it could exercise neither force nor will but merely judgment.

It ultimately depends on the executive to enforce its judgments.

So that was kind of their view.

The court will play a role, but it will not be the dominant role in the constitutional system.

Well, I think today, having served in the Congress, to me, Congress is by far the weakest of the three branches.

Its most robust power — the power of the purse — it effectively has just put on autopilot. A lot of the spending is just automatic anyways, and then the rest they use continuing resolutions to just basically perpetuate government and perpetuate the status quo.

Very rarely are they actually using the power of the purse to discipline the executive branch, to rein in any type of executive overreach. And that is true, regardless of who’s in, which party or the other has been in.

So you have a really neutered legislative branch.”

Here’s the rest of his speech:

“Really, I did more in one week as governor than I did in six years in Congress. And I was active. I worked hard. It’s just, they don’t use the authority they have in an effective way and I think the constitutional system is discombobulated as a result.

Of course, the executive branch, when you look at what the president is able to do, some of that is just circumstances. We’re more involved internationally …

Most of the people that come to see me in Congress that had a problem with something with the federal government did not have a problem with anything we were actually passing in Congress. It was the agencies that were doing this and doing that. So most of the lawmaking was being done by the executive branch agencies.

So you had a massive bureaucracy grow and you had the the executive function really exercising both legislative and in some cases judicial powers, which is not something the founders would want to do..

Then you have the court which, in some respects, in some instances, I think, sees itself as being almost superior to the other branches and superior to the Constitution itself, even, and has gotten involved in a whole host of diff things that I think they probably had no jurisdiction to deal with.

But certainly the court has more of an impact than the Congress, day in and day out, even accepting only 80 cases a year.

So that’s kind of the system. It causes me to reflect.

I think it’s great you have two supreme court justices here, all these circuit judges, but the fact that that is viewed as a major achievement to me suggests that the courts are exercising too much power in the first place.

Joseph Story, I think he was confirmed within five days. Stephen field, cduring the civil war, Lincoln nominates him, within a week he’s confirmed. …

The fact that we have all these titantic struggles about who sits on that shows that the court is playing too big a role in our society.

There’s some that say, if we get enough originalists on the Supreme Court and the lower courts, then everything can be made right, and everything will be good.

I think that would be beneficial, don’t get me wrong.

But I have to think back to Federalist 51. The whole premise of the system is you’re not going to have the right people in the positions of power. That’s why they designed the system the way they did. Because they said that if angels were to govern men, then no government would be necessary.

That is something that the founders believed at their core — that you had to have a system of checks and balances to keep each branch in line.

So for me, I want to see great judges. I think that’s important. But I also want to see a system that works, even when you have the wrong people in power.

I think judicial power is too robust right now and I think the checks upon it are just simply inadequate.

Part of it is you can go back to the original design and see the checks on it, but also the checks that are there really aren’t used by the Congress any more.

One of the areas … that brings this into focus is the use of these nationwide injunctions by one district judge.

You have a national policy that’s put in place by the executive branch and then you have a flurry of lawsuits. So the executive wins in Boston. They win in New York. They win in Atlanta. They win in Minneapolis. They win in Las Vegas. But they lose in San Francisco. And so, guess what?

You win all those other ones, you lose in San Francisco, so the whole policy is put on ice? We could sit there and say, oh yeah, these are just rogue district judges. They’re part of the legal resistance. They’re resisting Trump and all this stuff and the Supreme Court will correct it. They have corrected a lot of these. And that is true. But what happens in the meantime?

You’ve got like two years that goes by where the policy is frozen, just because you have one district judge that puts it on hold? To me, one district judge issuing a nationwide injunction is not a legitimate use of judicial power. I’d like to see the U.S. Supreme Court rein that in.

But I think there’s probably things Congress can do to rein that in.

But that’s just the thing. The checks that are there – jurisdiction-stripping – hasn’t proven to be that effective.

Hamilton said, if a judge gets off the rails, he’ll get impeached and removed from office. That hasn’t proven to be successful.

In the Federalist, Hamilton suggests that if the judges get off the rails then the executive will just let that decision go but not really enforce it…

But I think that we’re in a situation now where whatever institutional counteraction that the founders envisioned, that’s just simply overwhelmed by the partisan interests that you see now in national politics.

There may be something that’s detrimental for your branch, but if that’s more for your team in the partisanship is going in a good direction, then you’re willing to see your own branch diminished in order to achieve the more partisan ends.

And that goes with both sides. But I think the founders believed that where you sit was where you were supposed to stand, when it comes to institutional power.

But that’s not really where it is. You do not see a robust defense across party lines of Congress’s prerogatives, of the executive’s prerogatives, when those prerogatives are challenged. It’s all situational. So the Congress really cares about its law-making authority when President Obama is doing some of these more legislative in nature executive orders but the same people that didn’t care about that, they now care about it when the president’s different, and vice versa.

So that to me is something that’s not going to be an effective check.

I think back. Lincoln, he had to confront the Dred Scott decision, which was obviously one of the worst cases the Supreme Court has ever decided.

And in his inaugural address, he said that if you have the whole policy of the whole country decided by the Supreme Court based on one lawsuit between two parties, then the people are no longer their own rulers. They’re essentially turning over thieir authority to this eminent tribunal.

Dred Scott said you cannot prohibit slavery in the territories. Well, the whole republican party was founded to prohibit slavery in the territories. So that’s kind of like saying that the Republican party itself was unconstitutional at the time.

So Lincoln, they went ahead and they did ban it, in 1862, in spite of Dred Scott.

But Lincoln had to wrestle with this before he was president.

So he said, OK, if a decision’s made, if we just don’t honor any decision, then you just have lawlessness. So he always honored it with respect to the parties and the case in Dred Scott.

But he said I’m just not ready to say that this settles the policy for the whole country infinitum.

And he went through different factors in his judgment. He believed that a unanimous decision carried more weight than a split decision. I think Dred Scott was 7-2. He said that if a decision broke down on party lines, then he’d be less likely to say that that settled policy for the whole country. And then he said if it was a novel interpretation that was at odds with how previous branches had viewed it — for example, Congress had enacted a lot of legislation that presumed they had the authority to regulate slavery in the territories — that that would be something he would consider.

But this was something that he really, really struggled with.

I don’t suggest that there’s easy answers to it. But what I would like to suggest is that in our system of government, it’s the constitution that is supreme. It’s not the judiciary that is supreme. Courts are part of the constitutional system but they do not hover above the constitutional system. And the more serious that other political actors take their role, I think the stronger our constitutional system will be.

So the point I’ll make is, originalism, I think is important to figure out how you do constitutional interpretation, how you apply legislative text, but also I consider originalism to be the structural constitution and how different people who are actually in these branches are going to use their authority to preserve their own institutional interests.

If we say originalism is only about interpreting a statute or only about interpreting the bill of rights, then I think we’re leaving so much on the table. And ultimately, even though an originalist judge I think would be more respectful of the separation of powers than a non-originalist judge, we’re kind of tacitly still saying that the judiciary is superior to the other branches of government. I don’t think that’s what the founding fathers envisioned. And I don’t think that’s what’s the best for the country.

So members of Congress, if I was still there, I would tell them to take their obligations to protect their institution seriously, and the same thing with the executive branch.

True originalism means all these branches checking and balancing each other just as the founding fathers intended.

 

 

It’s pythons vs. hogs, as Gators face off against Dawgs

Pigs and pythons are on the line as the Gators vs. Bulldogs clash Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville.

After much teasing throughout the week that a gubernatorial bet was in the works for the gridiron clash between the 6th ranked University of Florida and 8th ranked University of Georgia, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp tweeted out videos of what they were putting on the line.

A UF victory means the governors would head to the Everglades to help hunt Burmese pythons.

“We need the help. We’re making progress. But I’d love to see the Gators win and Gov. Kemp come down there. And who knows, you may end up with a pair of python boots on the end of it,” DeSantis said in his video.

A Georgia win, meanwhile, sends DeSantis into Southern Georgia, where feral pigs are infesting area farms.

“I know that wild hog sausage is a lot better than python,” Kemp said.

Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.

By NSF’s relentless Jim Turner.

DeSantis: Israel has “total right” to run again, “no similarities” between sheriff suspension and Trump impeachment

IMG_2094A day after a key Senate committee handed Gov. Ron DeSantis a major victory in his crusade against embattled Broward Sheriff Scott Israel, the governor pooh-poohed any parallels between his suspension of Israel and Congressional Democrats’ efforts to unseat President Donald Trump.

DeSantis, Trump ally whose endorsement by the Republican president help boost him to a primary election victory and ultimately into the governor’s mansion last year, also told reporters today that Israel, a Democrat who is running for re-election, has the right to seek office again.

During yesterday’s Senate Rules Committee, one of Israel’s supporters, who identified himself as a “lifelong Republican” who voted for the GOP governor, equated suspension of Israel — an elected official — to the ongoing impeachment effort.

Rules Chairwoman Lizbeth Benacquisto quickly shut down that argument, but a reporter asked DeSantis about any similarities after Tuesday morning’s Cabinet meeting.

“I see no similarities between a presidential impeachment and the removal of a county official. This is a provision of the Florida Constitution. It talks about neglect of duty or incompetence. Obviously, we’ve seen multiple failures out of that agency. In fact, that agency, under his leadership, lost the state certification, and now it’s being reinstated under the new sheriff,” DeSantis said. “Look, had we not acted, my fear was that more failures would have put more people at risk. So I think I acted appropriately and I think that the Senate ultimately will come to that conclusion.”

The Rules Committee overturned the recommendation of Senate Special Master Dudley Goodlette, who found the governor failed to present evidence supporting his decision to suspend Israel, one of DeSantis’ first actions after taking office in January. Goodlette, former Republican state representative who is highly regarded in legislative circles, recommended that the Senate reinstate the embattled sheriff.

But voting 9-7 along party lines after a marathon meeting yesterday, the Rules Committee supported the governor’s suspension. The full Senate will vote on the matter tomorrow at 2 p.m.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday morning, DeSantis thanked the committee, which heard emotional, heart-wrenching pleas from the families of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting victims. The families are united in their insistence that Israel be prevented from getting his old job back. Dozens of Israel supporters also attended the meeting, including numerous members of black churches who expressed their allegiance to the sheriff.

“It was a very long day, with that process,” DeSantis said Tuesday. “I also want to thank the Parkland families for coming. It wasn’t easy for them. This has been a long time coming. I think they really showed a lot of strength, and I look forward to the Senate disposing of this matter tomorrow, and look forward to moving on.”

The expectation is for another, party-line vote in the Republican-dominated upper chamber that will result in Israel being permanently ousted from his job.

Israel, who was re-elected in 2016 by more than 70 percent of Broward County voters, remains popular in most parts of the heavily Democratic county. He told reporters after the Senate committee vote last night that he believes he will be re-elected to the seat he held until he was booted by DeSantis in January.

DeSantis was asked if he would remove Israel again, should the sheriff win re-election.

“No, no, no, no. Look, the people can make that decision going forward. But then, what happens will be, they’ll be responsible for whatever decision is made in that respect. It’s not going to be something that is going to matter to me either way. I had to make the decision I had to make. Those folks can make whatever decision that they want to make,” the governor said.

When pressed about removing Israel a second time, DeSantis — a Harvard Law School grad — reiterated his stance.

“Well, obviously if there was another basis, but no. This is this. If the Senate does concur he be removed, there’s nothing in the Constitution that bars someone from then seeking the same office again. Totally has a right to do it,” he said.

 

Luck, Lagoa on track to leave Florida Supremes

Florida Supreme Court Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck, en route to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, received a friendly vetting Wednesday by a Senate committee.

President Donald Trump tapped the two Florida justices for the Atlanta appeals court just months after Gov. Ron DeSantis named them to serve on the Sunshine State’s highest court.

“Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert J. Luck faced little pushback from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee during their nomination hearing Wednesday morning, as they fielded questions about “judicial activism” and how they would approach precedent as members of the federal judiciary,” The National Law Journal reported Wednesday.

If Lagoa and Luck get the go-ahead to join the appellate court, as is widely anticipated, DeSantis will have the opportunity to appoint two new state court justices to take their place.

That would put the governor in the rare position of appointing five Florida Supreme Court justices in his first term as the state’s chief executive.

The Judicial Nominating Commission is responsible for delivering a list of names to the governor to fill the vacancies.

But that process won’t kick in until Luck and Lagoa officially leave the bench after being confirmed by the Senate, a process which could drag on until December.

Once the vacancies occur, the JNC has 60 days to give a list of possible replacements to the governor and DeSantis will have an additional 60 days to make his choices.

 

New DOAH chief stamps Federalist brand on judge search

tumblr_p01k8iW2pT1tt2fafo1_1280John MacIver has been on the job for just a week, but the new chief judge at the Division of Administrative Hearings is already putting a Federalist Society spin on the joint.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and two Republican members of the Florida Cabinet — Attorney General Ashley Moody and CFO Jimmy Patronis — last week appointed MacIver to take over as head of DOAH, the go-to place for citizens and businesses to redress grievances against state agencies.

MacIver was admitted to The Florida Bar six years ago, and he’s the head of the local chapter of the Federalist Society, the conservative group that supports a “textualist” or “originalist” interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.

“The best place where improvement can be made is in the culture of judicial philosophy at DOAH,” MacIver told the Cabinet last week, responding to a question posed by Moody.

MacIver pointed out that, since DeSantis, a Harvard Law School graduate, has taken office, the governor has appointed judges who “respect the separation of powers, respect the rule of law, follow the text of the law based on its common understanding.”

Florida businesses, citizens and legislators, who craft laws, need to have “some predictability in the law” and shouldn’t be “subject to the whim” of judges who have their own policy preferences, MacIver said.

MacIver’s Federalist approach — and his lack of experience — drew some backlash from Democrats, including Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried, who voted against him, and several legislators.

MacIver, whose post requires Senate confirmation, meanwhile appears to have launched the DOAH makeover, as noted in a call-out to the Bar’s Administrative Law Section yesterday.

In an email to Brian Newman, the section’s chairman, MacIver wrote that he’s seeking “resumes for several vacant Administrative Law Judge positions,” and asked Newman to spread the word.

Minimum qualifications for ALJs is five-year membership in the Bar, MacIver noted.

“Additionally, and crucially, I will be seeking applicants who can show a commitment to faithfully upholding the rule of law,” he wrote (we added the emphasis).

Here’s the full text of his message to Newman:

Greetings Mr. Chair:

Please share with your membership my request for resumes for several vacant Administrative Law Judge positions. The official application is available through people first, but I am also accepting resumes and cover letters at Recruiting@Doah.state.fl.us. The minimum qualification to serve as an Administrative Law Judge is 5-years membership in the Florida Bar. Experience in administrative law and trial practice is highly valued. Additionally, and crucially, I will be seeking applicants who can show a commitment to faithfully upholding the rule of law. I expect the positions to be very competitive, but I’m asking for your help to discourage your members from self-screening their own applications. One of your members might have the unique combination of attributes that would make a perfect Administrative Law Judge—including the humility to think that they don’t—please encourage them to apply.

Respectfully yours,

John MacIver

Director and Chief Administrative Law Judge

Right now, it appears that there is one vacant ALJ position, but several other ALJs are nearing retirement age.

Latest installment in Morgan v. Gillum feud: ‘Massa mentality’ and shaming

For the second day in a row, Orlando trial lawyer and political kingmaker John Morgan and Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum are going mano-a-mano on social media.

The feud between the two escalated Wednesday, when Morgan, during an appearance at a Tiger Bay Club luncheon in the capital city, threatened to sue the former Tallahassee mayor, if Gillum ever runs for office again.

Morgan told the crowd of political insiders that he believes he has a “cause of action” against Gillum over his decision to leave more than $3 million in the bank ahead of the 2018 November election. Gillum narrowly lost to Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

After Morgan’s remarks to the Tiger Bay Club in Tallahassee garnered headlines on Wednesday, Gillum — who’s been trading barbs with Morgan on Twitter throughout the summer — took the fight to a new social media platform: Instagram.

“John Morgan suffers from what I like to call the ‘Massa’ mentality. A condition where your wealth and ‘supremacy’ deludes you into thinking that you own people,” Gillum wrote in a Thursday morning, alongside a post of a News Service of Florida story entitled “Morgan Warns Gillum Not to Run Again.”

Gillum added in the Instagram post: “He may own many slaves, but I am not one of them.”

Morgan fired back on Twitter and on Instagram three hours later:

@AndrewGillum if you gave someone $250K to build an orphanage & instead they kept the money to promote themselves I think you would be outraged!! That’s what is happening here. I don’t have slaves, but I am fighting to eliminate slave wages in Florida. My people make $15/hr. You really should be so ashamed of what you did. #FollowTheMoney 💸

When one of Gillum’s Instagram followers asked him about the unspent campaign money, Gillum — who’s now a CNN contributor — provided a lengthy response:

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— By Ana Ceballos.

 

 

Sotomayor: Florida death penalty rule ‘Kafkaesque’

Franz_Kafka_1917U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor signed off on a recent decision denying a stay of execution for Gary Ray Bowles, a serial killer who targeted gay men, before Bowles was put to death shortly before 11 p.m. Thursday.

But Sotomayor hinted that the state’s rules may need to be revisited.

Here’s an ABA Journal article breaking down Sotomayor’s statement:

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor expressed concern last week about a Florida procedural rule that makes it difficult for death-row inmates to assert claims that their mental disability is a constitutional bar to execution.

Sotomayor called the rule “Kafkaesque” in a statement on cert denial for Gary Ray Bowles, a serial killer who targeted gay men, report Bloomberg Law, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and CNN. Bowles was executed Thursday.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia in 2002 that executions of mentally disabled inmates violate the Eighth Amendment.

In Hall v. Florida in 2016, the U.S. SuprU.eme Court struck down Florida’s bright-line IQ threshold for asserting a mental disability that would exempt inmates from execution. The Florida Supreme Court ruled that same year that the Supreme Court decision applied to prisoners sentenced before the 2016 Supreme Court ruling.

But the Florida Supreme Court has also held that inmates claiming retroactive protection under Hall must have asserted an earlier claim of intellectual disability based on Atkins. Bowles didn’t raise his claim of intellectual disability until 2017, according to an Aug. 13 Florida Supreme Court decision denying his claim.

Sotomayor criticized Florida’s requirement for inmates to have asserted an intellectual disability claim before the Supreme Court overturned Florida’s bright-line IQ rule. Under the rule, Florida did not consider an inmate to be mentally disabled unless he or she had an IQ of 70 or below. Bowles had prior IQ test scores of 74, 80 and 83.

“This Kafkaesque procedural rule is at odds with another Florida rule requiring counsel raising an intellectual-disability claim to have a ‘good faith’ basis to believe that a death-sentenced client is intellectually disabled (presumably under the limited definition of intellectual disability that Florida had then imposed),” Sotomayor said.

Sotomayor also said Florida’s procedural rule “creates grave tension with this court’s guidance in Montgomery v. Louisiana,” a 2016 Supreme Court decision giving retroactive effect to an earlier decision barring mandatory life in prison without parole for juveniles.

Sotomayor said Bowles’ cert petition raised an Eighth Amendment claim but did not address concerns based on Montgomery.

“Because I do not believe that the questions as presented merit this court’s review at this time, I do not disagree with the denial of certiorari,” she said. “In an appropriate case, however, I would be prepared to revisit a challenge to Florida’s procedural rule.”