Florida State Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, filed legislation this week that seeks to establish a more diverse judiciary in the state by reforming its judicial nomination process. The following statement is by Scott McCoy, senior policy counsel for the SPLC Action Fund.
“The fundamental issue of fairness is at stake when our judges do not represent all Floridians. For the first time in almost four decades, there will not be one black judge on the Florida Supreme Court, which is supposed to safeguard equal protection and application of the laws.
“When the faces on the state’s top court do not reflect the population, confidence in the judiciary is undermined. That is not good for our democracy or the rule of law.
“This is especially troubling because we have a criminal justice system that is plagued by racial disparities: Half of the people incarcerated in Florida’s prison system are black, even though black people make up only 17 percent of the state’s total population.
“We must act now to promote diverse representation, fairness and integrity among Florida’s judiciary, especially on the state’s highest court of justice.
“Sen. Thurston’s SB 138 will help ensure that Floridians have the judiciary they expect and deserve – one that represents all Floridians.”