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Groups get more time to respond in suit over Supreme Court justices

The progressive groups suing Rick Scott will get till next Thursday to respond to his request to toss out a lawsuit that aims to stop the Republican governor from appointing three Supreme Court justices on his last day in office.

The Florida Supreme Court gave the League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVF) and Common Cause till Aug. 10 to file a reply, according to a Monday order.

Scott said the lawsuit should be rejected because it deals with something that may or may not happen in 2019. Age limits could force three justices to retire on the day Scott leaves office in January 2019. He’s term limited next year.

Scott has said he plans to name the replacements for the court’s liberal-leaning trio of Justices R. Fred LewisBarbara Pariente and Peggy A. Quince that same morning.

The organizations filed a petition for “writ of quo warranto,” a court action against government officials to demand they prove their authority to perform a certain action.

Scott can’t replace those justices because he’ll be out of office earlier on the same day all three retire, and their terms last till midnight, the groups have argued. The Supreme Court, in a 2006 advisory opinion, said appellate vacancies may be filled by a governor only “upon the expiration of the term of the judge or justice.”

The petitioners also include LWVF President Pamela Goodman, former LWVF president Deirdre Macnab, and Liza McClenaghan, the state chair of Common Cause Florida. They’re represented by Tallahassee attorneys John S. Mills and Thomas D. Hall, a former Clerk of the Florida Supreme Court.

(Background from The Associated Press, reprinted with permission.)

Written By

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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