ORLANDO, Fla. - Justices Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince are leaving the bench in January, ending decades of service by at least one African-American on Florida’s Supreme Court. Governor Ron DeSantis will select new justices from a list of 11 nominees, none of whom are black.
The dean of the Florida A&M University College of Law finds the pending change “significant” because an all-white court will lose “the perspective of someone who can speak from” the African-American community.
LeRoy Pernell calls that development “problematic” with issues expected to come before the high court, including the death penalty, voting rights and perhaps legal challenges to the so-called “stand your ground” law.
“I have no reason to believe that any justice on the Florida Supreme Court will make a ruling based on race,” he explained. “But I do think that their decisions are influenced by the experiences you bring to the court.”
Dean Pernell says other states look upon Florida and the legal decisions of its high court. “Much of the country, politically, will look very carefully at what Florida does with these issues.”