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Ron DeSantis selects Miami’s Robert Luck as next Supreme Court justice

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday appointed Robert J. Luck, a judge on the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami, to the Florida Supreme Court.

He’s the first Jewish justice to be named since Barbara Pariente was appointed by Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1997.

DeSantis announced the pick — first reported Sunday night by Florida Politics — at Scheck Hillel Community School, a Jewish school in North Miami Beach. Luck and his wife Jennifer’s children attend there, as did Luck himself.

The Governor was accompanied by Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, Attorney General Ashley Moody and First Lady Casey Black DeSantis. 

“Justice Luck has a public servant’s heart and a deep understanding of the constitutional separation of powers and the proper role of the courts,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Not only will he be a formidable force on the Florida Supreme Court, I think he will immediately command the respect of his colleagues and Florida’s judicial community.”

DeSantis last week appointed Barbara Lagoa, chief judge of the 3rd District Court of Appeal, to replace retired Justice R. Fred Lewis. Lagoa’s seat is reserved for a resident of the state’s Third Appellate District for Miami-Dade County. Lagoa performed Luck’s swearing-in before the announcement.

“Our state is fortunate to have Justices Luck and Lagoa now serving on the bench,” DeSantis added.

The selection continues the rightward push of the state’s highest court by DeSantis, a Ponte Vedra Beach Republican.

Lewis, Pariente and Peggy A. Quince had been regarded as the court’s liberal-leaning wing; they all faced mandatory age-related retirement on the same day DeSantis was sworn in. The former Pariente and Quince seats are at-large.

Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Ricky Polston, Alan Lawson and now Lagoa are the conservatives. Justice Jorge Labarga often is a swing vote, though he has recently been voting with the conservative bloc.

“I understand how the judiciary — what Hamilton called our least dangerous branch — fits into our system of government,” Luck wrote in his application to the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC).

“Having worked in each of the three branches, I understand the modest role of the judge in reviewing the laws enacted by the legislature, the actions taken by the executive, and the findings of the lower courts,” he added. “I have conducted myself that way for the last five years, and I will continue to do so as long as I am permitted to serve.”

The 39-year-old South Miami native’s rise to the state’s highest court was quick: He graduated from the University of Florida’s law school in the top ten percent of his class in 2004 and was admitted to practice law here in 2006, according to his application.

After graduation, Luck clerked for Chief Judge Ed Carnes of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, worked at the Greenberg Traurig law firm in Miami, and was an assistant federal prosecutor in Miami 2008-13.

In 2013, then-Gov. Rick Scott appointed him a circuit judge in Miami-Dade County’s 11th Judicial Circuit. He was retained by election in 2016, then was appointed by Scott to the 3rd District Court of Appeal in 2017.

A Periscope video of the press conference from CBS4 in Miami is below.

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