Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) made another authoritarian move with his recent appointment of Judge Jared Smith (R) to the 6th District of Appeals.
Smith, one of three DeSantis appointees to the appeals court, was ousted by Florida voters by his Democratic opponent Nancy Jacobs after he made headlines for denying a teenager the right to an abortion.
Known only as “Jane Doe,” the 17-year-old petitioned the Hillsborough Circuit Court to have an abortion without parental consent — a request Judge Smith denied.
According to the self-proclaimed conservative judge, Doe “failed to demonstrate the maturity and intelligence to make that decision.”
Yet, the unapologetic evangelical doesn’t have an issue with that “immature” teenager being responsible for the care, nurturing, and development of a baby? Got it!
The country has been unsurprisingly divided along party lies on the issue of a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion, but when the draft opinion of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito leaked earlier this year, it was a wake-up call for women on the opposite side of the aisle — sending shockwaves throughout the Republican Party when they realized they may have made a huge mistake.
Judge Jacobs seized the opportunity to capitalize on her opponent’s controversial and widely criticized ruling.
Reproductive rights advocates rallied behind the criminal defense and family law attorney, propelling her to a 52-48 victory.
Though Smith’s decision was overturned on appeal – signaling an overreach of the Circuit Judge’s authority in the matter – DeSantis decided that this was his guy.
Florida voters ousted Judge Jared Smith from office after he refused to let a minor terminate her pregnancy, deeming her too immature to get an abortion.
In response, Ron DeSantis just appointed Smith to an even higher court. https://t.co/V5bdWMnqNw https://t.co/cIwsYteHjS
— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) December 20, 2022
So much for democracy and the voice of the people being heard.
Appointed to the bench by DeSantis’ predecessor — Governor turned United States Senator Rick Scott (R) – in 2017, Judge Smith quickly moved up the judicial ranks.
After being elected as a County Judge the next year, Smith was placed on Hillsborough County Circuit Court Bench by the current Governor in 2019.
The county’s Democratic Party chair, Ione Townsend, said that the rejected jurist “brought his religious beliefs into the courtroom and didn’t follow the law” in Jane Doe’s case, The Tampa Bay Times reported.
“I think that by November, abortion rights, defending democracy, and inflation will be the top three issues. All around the country we are beginning to see women mobilizing,” the newspaper wrote.
Gov. DeSantis’ appointment of a judge whom voters overwhelmingly rejected isn’t the first controversial and fascist-adjacent decision he’s made to overturn the will of the people.
Just weeks prior to Jacobs’ victory, the potential 2024 GOP Presidential nominee removed twice-elected Hillsborough County District Attorney Andrew Warren after the state prosecutor signed a letter with other state prosecutors denouncing archaic and restrictive abortion laws.
DeSantis replaced the suspended Democrat with Republican Judge Suzy Lopez.
But Warren was not going down without a fight.
A week before Smith lost the non-partisan primary to Judge Jacobs, the suspended State Attorney filed a lawsuit against the Governor to reclaim his rightful position as the duly elected prosecutor for Hillsborough County.
“Today we took action against Ron DeSantis’ abuse of power and unlawful suspension,” he tweeted.
Today we took action against Ron DeSantis' abuse of power and unlawful suspension. Please join us in this fight at https://t.co/mebZt8It8i #DefendDemocracyNow pic.twitter.com/ekluzexc2H
— Andrew Warren (@AndrewWarrenFL) August 17, 2022
The newly created Court of Appeals will hear cases from the 9th, 10th, and 20th circuits in Florida’s Polk County.
“The Legislature this year approved a plan (HB 7027) that added the 6th District Court of Appeal and revised the jurisdictions of the 1st District Court of Appeal, the 2nd District Court of Appeal and the 5th District Court of Appeal,” local affiliate, Miami’s WLRN wrote.
Though the Lakeland resident doesn’t currently live in Polk County – and neither do the other nominees – according to WLRN, The Florida Supreme Court ruled last week that a residency requirement “attaches at the time of appointment,” not when candidates are put forward by judicial nominating commissions.
DeSantis makes appointments from lists of candidates nominated by the commissions.
Smith will take his place on the appeal’s bench on January 1, 2023.
Follow Ty Ross on Twitter @cooltxchick