Florida’s Supreme Court just thwarted Rick Scott and gave Democrats a huge win

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The tactics that Republicans use to achieve and maintain governmental power on the local, state, and federal level have increasingly relied on lying and cheating every chance that they get.

From illegal voter suppression to partisan gerrymandering to “alternative facts,” these tactics suggest how tenuous Republican power truly is and explain how the party manages to continue to hold majorities in the U.S. Senate and win the presidency despite the fact that they garnered millions of fewer votes than Democrats overall.

Outgoing Florida Governor Rick Scott tried to pull a similarly shady move in an attempt to pack the state’s Supreme Court with Republican appointees before he leaves office this January, but luckily that same court thwarted his efforts today by ruling his plan illegal, according to a report on Alternet.

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Scott tried to take advantage of a quirk in the Florida Constitution that mandates the retirement age for justices on its highest state court. It turns out that all three of the judges appointed by Democrats — out of the seven judges on the court — will have to retire on January 8th, the same day that Scott turns over the governorship to the winner of next month’s election.

With progressive Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum leading in polls to take over the governor’s seat, Scott hatched an insidious plan to stack the court and pack it with his own appointees to make it an all Republican-named bench, not satisfied with a simple one vote majority.

In order to do so, he had make the assumption that the judges would be officially out of office at the stroke of midnight on January 8th, while he would retain his gubernatorial powers until the moment that the next governor was sworn in, giving him a window of several hours to shove his own political cronies onto the court and maintain GOP control of the state’s judicial system for years to come.

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Scott went so far as to ask the members of the state’s judicial nominating committee, all hand-picked by the governor himself, to assemble a list of candidates for him to choose from.

When word of his plans leaked out, the League of Women Voters filed a lawsuit to prevent the governor’s trickery and stop him from moving forward with his bold and hypocritical attempt to stack Florida’s judicial deck in the final hours of his term, a particularly galling move by Scott given the Republican obstruction of President Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court last year because of their bogus claims that he had no right to nominate a justice in the last year of his term.

Luckily, Florida’s current Supreme Court, even with a Republican majority, ruled that Scott’s scheme was far from kosher.

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“The governor who is elected in the November 2018 general election has the sole authority to fill the vacancies,” the justices stated in their ruling, saying that Scott “exceeded his authority by directing the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission … to submit its nominations to fill these vacancies by November 10, 2018.”

Now, the three soon-to-be-empty seats on the Florida Supreme Court will be filled by whomever wins the gubernatorial election next month. If the racist Republican candidate, Ron DeSantis, wins, then the court will wind up with 100% Republican-appointed judges.

All the more reason to make sure that you get out to vote for Andrew Gillum for Governor in a few weeks if you’re a registered voter in Florida, if only to prevent the kind of hypocritical cheating that the GOP uses to control the levers of power.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.

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Original reporting by Matthew Chapman on Alternet.

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Vinnie Longobardo

Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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