Justice Barbara Pariente Says Rick Scott Will Make Court 'Partisan'
Oy Vey! Five days after getting trounced in a GOP straw poll in Tampa, Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente went partisan at a synagogue in Delray Beach.
One of three justices facing merit retention in November, Pariente made a case to keep her job -- by raising the specter of Republican Gov. Rick Scott.
"This is on the ballot every six years and will be the fourth time I have participated in a merit retention election," she told an audience at Temple Emeth.
"A vote yes will be a vote to retain me and the other two justices. … A vote no will give Governor Scott the right to make his appointments, which will result in partisan political appointments," she was quoted as saying in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
"The public deserves a level playing field. Merit retention is designed to keep partisan politics out of the judicial system," she went on.
"We should want judges that are fair and impartial. This is the heart of democracy."
While the Temple Emeth crowd was supportive, a straw poll of 156 Republicans in Hillsborough County on Saturday didn't turn out so well for Pariente and her bench-mates.
Fred Lewis garnered just 34 percent support for retention while Peggy Quince received just 28 percent support. Pariente, who has been on the court since 1997, fared worst, with just 27 percent saying she should keep her job.
All three justices -- whom conservatives have alternately branded "liberal" and "activist" -- have been raising campaign money for what may prove to be the most closely contested retention election in years.