EDITORIAL: Judicial term limits waking from political sleep

Republicans in Florida now have nearly unfettered control of the Governor’s Mansion, the House and the Senate. Now they want more.


House Speaker Richard Corcoran is working hard behind the scenes to resurrect a bill similar to one the Senate sank last year that would put term limits on Appellate Judges.

You’ll hear the argument that no one should have an open-ended guarantee of a job. Another will be how would we ever get rid of a bad federal judge? That’s a smokescreen.

First, in Florida judges are allowed to serve only until their 70th birthday. They then step down and the party in power generally inserts a like-minded jurist in his or her place. Secondly, these judges do have to “run” for office, hence the retention choices on the ballot.

It’s true that few ever lose these “races.” In fact in Florida, no judge has ever been turned out by the voters. But this is just the type of independence vital to our system of government.

The Founding Fathers built their democracy around the notion of separation of powers. And, for the most part it works.

But the idea of the tyranny of the majority is a reality. And we’re seeing a lot of this first-hand in Florida. Again, Republicans have legislature and the governor. They run Tallahassee. It is only personal tiffs that dilute their power.

The legislature hammered Gov. Rick Scott’s budget last year. And Scott has hammered right back: No love lost there. The silliest scenario of wasted power has been the constant infighting between the Republican leadership in the House and the Senate.

But, with slightly cooler egos, the Republicans pretty much have it their way.

Except, that is, with the Supreme Court, which leans just slightly to the left.

We believe there is a very good argument to be made that the High Court is neither left or right philosophically speaking, and that it’s really the legislative branch that has moved further right, expanding the political rift.

At any rate, the judicial term limit bill is nothing more than political payback for the Supreme Court taking the Republican leadership back behind the woodshed for a spanking — overturning two lopsided redistricting maps by the GOP and finally drawing the map themselves.

And there is really only one reason that scenario was possible: Job security. Judges, for instance, don’t have to “run” for office, so they don’t have to spend 70 percent of their time soliciting campaign contributions and 30 percent of their time working — like so many of our lawmakers. Because of that, they’re not beholding to anything but their consciences. They don’t have a “constituency” at any level to please.

In short, Supreme Court Justices are predominately immune to the kryptonite of partisan politics.

We think that’s exactly where they should stay.