The Florida Legislative Black Caucus is a nonpartisan organization that proudly boasts 29 members representing nearly every area in the State. The common goal that unites our members is the advancement of policies that protect and advocate for the black community, which itself is too often adversely impacted by the effects of neglectful legislative policies and systemic racism. Nonetheless, we, as a caucus, are not monolithic in thought.
On January 31, 2020, the Florida Black Legislative Caucus submitted a letter to Governor DeSantis in support of the appointment of Judge Renatha Francis to the Florida Supreme Court, in part, to ensure that the state’s highest court was not without racial diversity and a black Supreme Court justice for the first time in over 40 years. While our members are not in unanimous agreement that Judge Francis was an appropriate selection to fill the available vacancy, one thing that we all agree on is crystal clear—the judicial nominating process is fundamentally flawed and has yielded a judiciary that is not fully reflective of the depth and breadth of the diversity of the population that it serves. This includes a lack of both racial diversity and, what is too often neglected, diversity of thought. In the conversation over Governor DeSantis’ recent Supreme Court pick we cannot lose sight of the bigger picture: while the judicial selection process was designed to give Florida’s governors considerable influence, it was not designed to give them carte blanche to populate a bench with only judicial candidates who share their judicial philosophy and who think like them. Floridians do not all think alike, and neither should our judges. That’s why in the 2020-2021 legislative session, our member, Sen. Perry E. Thurston, Jr. will put forth SB 86 that would revise the Judicial Nominating Commissions.
In closing, we stand united in our effort to improve the judicial appointment process as a whole.