Lawton Chiles - Legacy - Judicial Appointments

Judicial Appointments

Perhaps his greatest legacy was his impact on the Florida Supreme Court, where his appointments continued to have a major impact on state and national events long after Chiles' death. Chiles appointed Justice Major B. Harding in 1991, Justice Charles T. Wells in 1994, Justice Harry Lee Anstead in 1994, Justice Barbara J. Pariente in 1997, and Justice R. Fred Lewis in 1998. Chiles and incoming Gov. Jeb Bush jointly appointed Justice Peggy A. Quince in 1998 just a few days before Chiles' death. Quince was jointly appointed because her term as Justice would begin the exact moment that Bush's first term as Governor began, so there was a legal question which Governor had the authority to appoint her. Bush and Chiles agreed to make a joint appointment to avoid a lawsuit over the question.

Thus, at one point, Chiles had appointed five of the seven Justices and had jointly appointed the sixth. Chiles' appointments formed the Supreme Court majorities that decided the following major cases:

  • In 2006, the Court struck down a law passed by the Florida State Legislature that had created the United States' first statewide education voucher program. The majority in this case consisted of Wells, Anstead, Pariente, Lewis, and Quince. Bush appointees Raoul G. Cantero and Kenneth B. Bell dissented.
  • In 2004, the court struck down another piece of legislation from the Florida legislature designed to reverse a lower court decision in the Terri Schiavo case. This decision was unanimous and included Bush appointees Cantero and Bell. By this time, Harding had retired.
  • In the 2000 presidential election controversy, the Florida Supreme Court ordered a statewide recount in the disputed election pitting George W. Bush against Al Gore. The United States Supreme Court later reversed that ruling. The Florida Supreme Court majority in this case consisted of Anstead, Pariente, Lewis, and Quince. Dissenting Justices were Wells, Harding, and Leander J. Shaw, Jr., an appointee of Gov. Bob Graham. Shaw retired in early 2003 and was replaced by Bell.

Read more about this topic:  Lawton Chiles, Legacy

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