Thursday, May 29, 2008

Florida's Crist will get chance to remake Supreme Court

Florida's Crist will get chance to remake Supreme Court
Scott Maxwell


May 28, 2008

A scary thing is about to happen.

Charlie Crist will soon have the chance to remake the Florida Supreme Court.

Not by appointing just one justice -- but four of the seven.

Two have recently announced their retirement. And two more will be forced out in the coming year because of age restrictions.

This is a big deal.

And based on appointments past, Crist has a mixed record.

There was, for instance, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a board supposedly devoted to protecting natural resources -- and to which Crist selected three developers, a construction-company exec and a land-use attorney. Quite the group of environmentalists.

Then there was the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, a board mired in politics, lobbying and fundraising -- and to which Crist appointed a lobbyist and fundraiser.

He has done better with the South Florida Water Management District and local boards elsewhere.

But really, all of these boards pale in comparison to the importance of the Supreme Court.

The supremes handle death-penalty cases. They can remove governors from office. They have been involved in everything from school vouchers and Terri Schiavo to redistricting and the 2000 presidential elections.

Even though a nominating commission is also involved in the appointment process, this is primarily Crist's deal. And it's a big one -- one that will leave a lasting mark.

So far, Crist has demonstrated a moderate streak as governor. And hopefully that will continue to be the case in these selections.

Too often we hear from extremists on both sides -- when most Americans sit somewhere in the middle.

Really, these positions should never be about politics. They should be about selecting wise jurists with an impeccable understanding of the Constitution and the role of the courts. (Those who complain of "activist judges" every time they see a ruling they dislike often don't understand what courts in this country are supposed to do.)

It's probably too much to expect Crist to approach this from a completely politics-free perspective. But he should certainly do so with sober contemplation, advice from sage counsel -- and something we haven't seen enough of lately: his undivided attention.

More tidbits, extra Cristy

*Charlie Crist may have spent Memorial Day weekend buttering up John McCain. But a new survey of Washington insiders suggests Crist wouldn't do much to help the Republican ticket. After surveying 81 GOP politicos, the National Journal reported that Mitt Romney was the running-mate of choice, favored by 32 percent of respondents. Crist won a mere 4 percent, placing him in a tie with Colin Powell -- and behind the likes of Joe Lieberman . . . who's not even a Republican.

*If Crist does get picked, you have to consider the real possibility that he could one day be prez, given McCain's age and all. And oh, the possibility that is! We would have the peppiest, most upbeat State of the Union addresses ever. Plus, I have to believe foreign relations would improve. (Just imagine Governor Feel-good's sit-downs! "Fidel, Kim Jung: I'd love to have you two guys over this weekend. And I swear we'll have oodles of fun. But first you have to promise to rein in the tyranny. Pretty please?") Also, given Charlie's buds, consider the possibility of these four words: Attorney General John Morgan.

Scott Maxwell, who'd expect causing a slip 'n' fall to be America's newest capital offense, can be reached at or 407-420-6141.

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