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Florida justices appear to survive retention vote

By Staff | Nov 2, 2010

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — All four Florida Supreme Court justices and 27 appellate judges on Tuesday’s ballot appeared headed for retention although some tea party activists and other conservatives tried to make history by kicking a pair of justices off the bench.
If early returns in the yes-no balloting hold up, Florida will keep its record intact. Not a single the first merit-retention election in 1978.
The tea party targets, Justices James Perry and Jorge Labarga, had comfortable leads.
With 43 percent of the expected vote counted, Perry had 61 percent yes votes and Labarga had 58 percent. Their two more conservative colleagues did a bit better. Chief Justice Charles Canady had 67 percent yes votes and Justice Ricky Polston had 65 percent.
Some Republican politicians and tea party types waged a low-key campaign against Perry and Labarga using news releases, word-of-mouth and websites.
They are angry at the pair because they voted with the Supreme Court majority in rejecting for the ballot a state constitutional amendment that would have allowed voters to voice their opposition to President Barack Obama’s health care plan.
The majority ruled proposed Amendment 9’s ballot summary was unclear and inaccurate, the only reasons the court can reject an amendment for the ballot
The state conceded the summary was misleading but urged the justices to replace it with the text of the proposal. The majority cited precedents from past cases to reject that idea.
Canady and Polston dissented. They didn’t draw organized opposition.
One of Amendment 9’s prime sponsors, Sen. Carey Baker of Eustis, urged Republicans in a letter to reject Perry and Labarga because they “have time-and-again exceeded their authority and our trust in creating new laws from the bench.”
Perry has said the majority did nothing more than follow existing law.