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On Jan. 4, just days before the start of a makeover of the Florida Supreme Court, justices issued two 4-3 decisions.
The cases drew relatively little attention across the state --- one dealt with Orange County elections, the other with attorney fees in a foreclosure battle. But on the losing end of the decisions were Chief Justice Charles Canady and his frequent allies Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson.
Days - Members - Majority - Cases - Justices
Four days later, three members of the majority in those cases --- longtime justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince --- left the court because of a mandatory retirement age. And after Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis named three replacements, the Supreme Court took the unusual step this week of reversing course on the Jan. 4 decisions.
Justices, in a pair of 6-1 opinions Thursday, overturned the two rulings. The only dissenter in both cases: Justice Jorge Labarga, who had sided with Pariente, Lewis and Quince in January.
Opinions - Sign - Supreme - Court - DeSantis
The new opinions are a tangible early sign about how the Supreme Court has changed since DeSantis appointed justices Barbara Lagoa, Robert Luck and Carlos Muniz to join fellow conservatives Canady, Polston and Lawson. The appointments erased a more-liberal majority that included Pariente, Lewis and Quince and had frequently bedeviled Republican leaders and business interests.
The Orange County and attorney-fee decisions are not the kind of high-profile issues that will draw heavy scrutiny or even necessarily reflect a conservative-versus-liberal divide. But they came as state policymakers ponder the effects of the Supreme Court makeover.
Example - Florida - House - Week - Bill
For example, the Florida House this week passed a bill that would require parental consent before minors could have abortions. The Supreme Court in 1989 struck down such a law as unconstitutional and has ruled in favor of abortion rights in other cases through the years. But now, with the more-conservative majority, lawmakers are debating...
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