Rick Scott Has Appointed Fewer African-Americans to Judgeships Than Previous Governors

Rick Scott Has Appointed Fewer African-Americans to Judgeships Than Previous Governors
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg

In the first four years of his governorship of Florida, Rick Scott has apparently appointed fewer African-Americans to judgeships in the state than the past two governors in that same time span.

This, according to new data released by Scott's office over the weekend.

In all, Scott has appointed none black attorneys to Florida judgeships in four years, which include reappointments of three judges. Those three judges work smaller courts, such as traffic and injury cases.

When it comes to more prestigious seats -- such as trial and circuit court, Scott has appointed only two African Americans in the last four years.

Scott attempted an explanation to all this with the Tampa Bay Times, saying, "What I am focused on is making sure that the people I appoint understand that there are three branches of government and that they don't get to legislate. They don't get to pass laws, just like I don't get to pass laws."

Overall, Scott has seemed to lean white and/or Hispanic with his judge appointments. But mostly, white.

Thirteen of the fourteen names of Scott's judgeship choice are white. The fourteenth, Hispanic.

Between November 2012 and April 2014, when Scott appointed two African Americans to judgeships, the rest of the appointments -- 65 in all -- were white or Hispanic, including 39 white men.

Now the the Florida Bar and the Legislature's black caucus are coming out to criticize the governor.

From the Times:

"He has no interest in diversity," said state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, a caucus member and incoming Senate Democratic leader. "He wants to stack the courts with people who think like him. It's that corporate mentality that he brought to the governor's office."

In contrast, during Jeb Bush's first four years, he appointed 22 black judges, including the first black female justice on the Supreme Court.

According to the data, Bush appointed African Americans to judgeships ten percent of the time, while Charlie Crist did it 8.3 percent of the time.

Rick Scott? His black judgeship appointments have been paltry 5.7 percent in his first four years.

According to what Scott spokesman John Tupps told the Times, the governor considers judgeship appointment candidates on the basis of their "dedication to serve the state with humility and respect the rule of law."

Send your story tips to the author, Chris Joseph.

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