A conservative group says a conservative campaign to oust Supreme Court Justices Peggy Quince (above) and others is unfounded. (Photo by Village Square/Flickr)

By Ashley Lopez
Florida Center for Investigative Reporting

The conservative Federalist Society released a report that claimed charges against three Supreme Court Justices facing a merit retention vote in November are wrong.

The Florida Republican Party has been under fire for its involvement in a conservative-led campaign aimed at ousting Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince. All three justices were appointed by a Democratic governor and have received the ire of conservative groups in the state.

This year, Floridians will vote on whether these justices will get to stay in the high court. However, groups such as Koch brothers-backed Americans for Prosperity are funding a campaign advocating for their removal.

No justice has ever lost a merit retention vote in Florida.

Among the charges aimed at smearing these judges are claims that they are activists who have disregarded the law to push an agenda.

However, a Florida International University professor commissioned by the Federalist Society reviewed some of the most controversial cases those justices were involved in and found those claims are false.

According to Mary Ellen Klas at the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald:

Although the Federalist Society does not take a position in the merit retention races, Foley said in a conference call with reporters that her review found that the controversial rulings “are in fact supported by some prior precedent and they do involve acceptable methods of legal reasoning.”

Opponents who want to accuse them of judicial activism, she said, are “going to have a hard time making that label stick.’’ …

Foley, a constitutional law scholar and law professor at FIU, said she chose cases that have been most frequently used by opponents seeking to oust the justices from the bench.

The goal was to provide “a balanced, honest analysis of the most contentious decisions about which these justices have been in agreement,” she said.

Foley said however, that the rulings should not be the only measure voters use when evaluating the justices in November. Other factors can include their demeanor, judicial education, strength of their judicial analysis and ideology.

The GOP is currently split on this controversial move to fight against three incumbent justices.

As I have mentioned before, the effort to politicize the court does not stop at a merit retention vote. The GOP-led Florida Legislature also put a state constitutional amendment on the ballot that experts say would politicize the Florida Supreme Court.

Amendment 5 would change the Florida Constitution to say that the Florida Senate must confirm state Supreme Court nominees. If passed, it would also allow the Florida Legislature to repeal any court rules with only a majority, which is 50 percent plus one. Right now, the legislature needs a supermajority.