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Sunburn — The Morning Read Of What’s Hot In Florida Politics — 4.28.21

Florida’s Supreme Court is similar to courts across the country in its significant lack of diversity,

By Peter Schorsch    

Good Wednesday morning.

A new Brennan Center study found state Supreme Courts nationwide fail to seat justices who represent the communities they serve.

The study found 22 states do not have any justice who publicly identifies as a person of color, including 11 states where people of color make up at least 20% of the population. Overall, just one in six of the country’s justices are Black, Latino, Asian American, or Native American, even though people of color make up almost 40% of the U.S. population.

The lack of diversity on the bench is just as true in Florida as it is elsewhere.

The Florida Bar reports that, as of 2017, only 17.5% of Florida’s state judges are people of color, even though the latest Census reports show that people of color make up nearly half the state’s population.

As for the state Supreme Court, Florida is one of 12 states with only a single woman justice and one of eight states where there is no Black justice, despite Black residents making up at least 10% of the population.

The Florida Access to Justice Project says changing the way Florida nominates judges could produce a substantial and timely change.

Rep. Fentrice Driskell and Sen. Perry Thurston filed bills this year that would have curtailed the Governor’s influence over judicial nominating commissions. However, neither bill was heard in committee.

“Bills like the ones introduced this year by Sen. Thurston and Rep. Driskell were designed to limit the outsized influence Governors have on our judiciary and ensure a judicial nominating process that is independent and reflective of our diverse state,” said Damien Filer on behalf of the Florida Access to Justice Project and Progress Florida.

As Trelvis Randolph, General Counsel for the Miami-Dade NAACP, puts it: “By passing JNC reforms we can be assured Florida’s judiciary will reflect our diverse state and be free from the undue influence of partisan politics and special-interest money — with access to justice for all.”

I was in a mood yesterday, so I wrote a lot. Here are links to the posts:

??♂️ — Chris Sprowls and his House are having a stellar week: Pretty much every piece of legislation House Speaker Sprowls has pushed this Legislative Session made it through the Senate with near-unanimous votes. From workforce programs to early learning and school choice, even a bipartisan police reform bill, Sprowls’ list of wins is mounting. Read more here.

? — The part of early learning education every parent should get behind: If you’re the parent of a preschooler, you’ve probably by now figured out that you won’t officially know whether your child is kindergarten ready until, get this, they’re already in kindergarten. The early learning success bill changes that. Read more about why that’s good for moms and dads here.

? — A bad car crash and a bout of COVID-19 couldn’t get this lobby team down: Most lobbyists did better than expected this Legislative Session, but one, in particular, deserves particular kudos. Anfield Consulting found Frank Bernardino is still recovering from a nasty wreck; three team members were sidelined with COVID-19, one of whom spent a week in the hospital. So landing some $100M for their clients in the 2021/22 budget was a particular feat. Well played, Anfield crew. Well played.

FloridaPolitics, excerpt posted on  SouthFloridaReporter.comApril 28, 2021

Reprinted with permission