Mr. G: Charlie Crist is my Hero
Yesterday, Governor Charlie Crist made a decision which should have every Conservative in the state excited; the appointment of Charles Canady, Jr. to the Florida Supreme Court. I realize that while most of us Conservatives will tell you that the appointment of good judges are at the top of our priority list, most of us don't follow judicial appointments closely; especially at the state and local level. So allow me to bring you up to speed.
Backdrop for the Appointments: Justices Bell and Cantero Resign
The Florida Supreme Court has seven seats. Each Justice is appointed by the Governor to a life term with mandatory retirement at 70 (that information will be important in a moment). During his two terms, Governor Jeb Bush appointed two Justices. Justice Kenneth Bell and Justice Raoul Cantero. Having spent a good amount of time with both of these men I can tell you that they are men of integrity, they are passionate about their families and they both have brilliant legal minds. Much of the current Court leans to the left, with Justice Bell and Cantero anchoring the principles of judicial restraint rather than activism; often on their own.
Both Justice Bell and Cantero resigned from the Court within the past few months. They cited the fact that they wanted to return with/to their families to their homes in Pensacola and Miami, respectively. Their absence leaves a tremendous void in the Court which will be difficult to fill. In my opinion, Justices Bell and Cantero were not only two of the best judges in the state, but in the country. But Governor Crist made an incredible selection to fill Justice Cantero's position.
Canady as Politician
Canady has been involved in politics for quite some time, serving in both the Florida and US House of Representatives. In 2002 he was appointed by then Governor Bush to the Second District Court of Appeals for the State of Florida where he has served since. During his time as a US Congressman Canady authored the bill to end partial birth abortion, was a strong proponent of school vouchers here in Florida, and defended Florida's death penalty system. Oh, he was also one of the US House of Representatives members who spearheaded the impeachment proceedings against President Clinton.
Canady as Judge
Now before you get too excited, remember that we don't want activist judges either way. A Conservative activist judge is just as bad as a liberal one because it opens the door for more judicially mandated and dictated law formed outside of the democratic process. Restraint is key. Thankfully, Canady has been a reliably restrained judge.
As Canady wrote in his application for the position, "Courts should proceed with a sense of humility, with an awareness of the inherent limitations of the judicial decisionmaking process, and with an attitude of respect for the determination of the legislative and executive branches."
That is exactly the kind of judicial decision-making process we want in place and it has been the process Canady has demonstrated in his decisions.
At 54, Canady could, and has promised to, sit on the Court for 16 years before mandatory retirement forces him out.
Governor Crist kept his promise to appoint great judges for the State of Florida. I applaud his decision. He's given us a great judge with 6 years of judicial opinions which confirm that Justice Canady will serve this state well.
The Future of the Court
The appointment of Canady is reason enough to celebrate, but it gets better. Crist has to appoint another Justice to replace Justice Bell. Again, this will be difficult, but given his first appointment, Governor Crist has earned my confidence. Additionally, Justice Harry Anstead and Charles Wells, both appointments of Governor Lawton Chiles hit the mandatory retirement age of 70 in the next year, and must resign. This means Governor Crist gets at least 2 more appointments. If he follow the suit of his first selection, Crist will place 4 textualist judges on the Court, turning the tide and giving good judicial decision-making a 4-3 majority on the Court. That is a dramatic change for a 1 year period.
Congratulations to future Justice Canady and thank you, thank you, thank you to Governor Charlie Crist for a job well done.