Gov. Crist Alienates Conservatives With Judicial Misstep

If Florida’s Republican Governor aimed to end all speculation that he might one day run for national office, he seemingly accomplished that goal Wednesday.

The man whose endorsement helped Sen. John McCain capture Florida’s winner-take-all presidential primary delegates cemented his RINO status two days ago when he made his fourth, and hopefully final, appointment to the activist, leftist Florida Supreme Court.

Crist was faced with a choice between the two leading prospects handed him by Florida’s Judicial Nominating Commission.  He had to choose between a clear conservative and a clear liberal.  

The conservative was District Court of Appeals Judge Alan Lawson. Crist received an estimated 30,000 e-mails, faxes, phone calls, and letters in support of Lawson, in addition to the endorsements of  the Florida Police Benevolent Association, law enforcement officials, the National Rifle Association, Florida Right to Life, Florida Family Action, and dozens of other pro-life and pro-family groups around the state and across the country.

The liberal was Judge James Perry, who was heavily supported by Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States; Equality Florida, the leading homosexual activist group in Florida (and the leading opponent of Florida’s recently successful ballot initiative banning gay marriage in Florida); the NAACP; and several other liberal groups.  

Whom did Crist choose to put on the already activist, left-leaning, Florida Supreme Court that tried to steal the 2000 Presidential election from Bush for Gore?  This Republican chose the liberal — Judge Perry.  On qualifications alone, leaving judicial philosophy aside, the choice was clear.  It had to be Lawson, an appellate judge.  Perry, a trial court judge, has absolutely no appellate court experience whatsoever, and yet he will now be sitting on the highest appellate court in the nation’s fourth largest state.

Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger, whose organization led the gay marriage ban effort, today  released the following statement: “The Governor’s decision today is both stunning and profoundly disappointing.  He missed a real opportunity not only to appoint the most qualified candidate, but also to bring the court back into ideological balance.  Instead, he made an appointment rooted in politics and one which will entrench the Florida High Court back into a 5-2 left leaning majority for at least the next decade.  The People’s Governor received a record breaking number of communications from tens of thousands of Floridians asking him to appoint Lawson, who was clearly the most qualified candidate.  The Governor was apparently completely unmoved by this unprecedented and historical show of support.”

Stemberger went on to note, “This appointment was being watched by state and national groups across the country and was considered by many political analysts to be a ‘career defining’ decision for Governor Crist.  Crist, who has national political aspirations, is currently considering a run to replace U.S. Senator Mel Martinez and some believe he even aspires to become a future President of the United States.”

Two weeks ago, a Tampa Tribune political reporter noted, “If Perry is chosen, he would be the second black justice on the seven-member state Supreme Court.  Both sides have lobbied Crist, and he has strong political reasons for not wanting to alienate either side.

Crist has proclaimed his intent to make racially diverse judicial appointments, and he wants black and minority support if he runs for the U.S. Senate next year.  At the same time, his relations with the conservative base of the Republican Party are badly strained, partly because of his backing of President Barack Obama’s stimulus plan. An appointment conservatives don’t like would only worsen that.”

In light of today’s judicial appointment, which puts Perry automatically on the Supreme Court since there is no confirmation process, Crist’s relationship with conservatives just got a whole lot worse.  Strained is an understatement.  Ruptured is more like it.

Yet, this latest proof that Crist is a Republican in Name Only is a good thing, even though we Floridians will suffer the consequences.  How so? By his own hand, Crist has stripped away any credibility in the notion that he might be a conservative.