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Florida Judicial Candidates Are Now Allowed to Identify as Conservative or Liberal

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A new ruling by the Florida Supreme Court will allow these judicial candidates to identify as conservatives or liberals.

This decision by the state Supreme Court concerns a 2022 campaign in which a St. Johns County judicial candidate judge told voters in the district that she was a conservative.

She was reported to the Florida Judicial Qualifications Commission for violating a rule known as the Code of Judicial Conduct, Canon 7, which prohibits candidates running for judge from announcing their political party affiliation. However, the candidate never announced her party affiliation.

So, the Court said, “to describe oneself as a ‘conservative’ does not signal bias, pro or con, toward anyone or on any issue.”

Now, some in the legal field predict the ‘non-partisan” judicial races will become “highly partisan.”

“We live in highly partisan times,” said Nova Southeastern University Law School professor Bob Jarvis. “We should not be surprised by this decision. The word ‘conservative’ means different things to different people. You could be a conservative and say you’re for a strong national defense, low taxes, and smaller government. That doesn’t predict judicial decisions. But ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ are stand-in words” that almost always signal a candidate’s partisan preferences,”

See also  Republicans Softening Their Positions on Party Platform

“The decision today will not only erode public confidence in the judiciary but also open the floodgates to campaign political speech-related disqualification motions,” said Anthony Alfieri, director of the Center for Ethics and Public Service at the University of Miami School of Law.

Some Democrats opposed the court’s ruling. Mitch Ceasar, a former Broward County Democratic Party Chair said more candidates will declare their political affiliations by announcing their political philosophies.

But don’t expect to see all candidates hint at which party they support when campaigning.

“If you live in a red district, judicial candidates who are democrats won’t be mentioning their political beliefs, and the same goes for republicans looking to run in blue districts,” said election attorney Lindsey Brock.


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