The organized opposition to the retention of three Florida Supreme Court justices has their supporters accusing the Republican Party of trying to take over the judiciary and rekindled memories of scandal and corruption that led to the elimination of partisan elections for the justices and appellate judges.
Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince would become the first justices or appellate judges removed since merit retention elections began in 1978 if they lose Nov. 6, but none has ever faced the kind of organization opposition that has emerged this year.
The state Republican Party's executive committee unanimously voted to oppose all three justices, marking the first time a Florida political party has taken a position in a retention race. Americans for Prosperity, a group formed by the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, is running television ads against them and they've also drawn opposition from Restore Justice 2012, which grew out of a similar tea party-related organization that unsuccessfully campaigned against two justices in 2010.
Their opponents have labeled the three justices "activists" and cited a handful of rulings. The list includes decisions that removed from the 2010 ballot a constitutional amendment challenging President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, gave a new trial to a convicted killer and overturned Republican Gov. Jeb Bush's private school voucher program in 2006.