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Conservative Group Says Fla. Supreme Court Justices Not "Activist"

Three Supreme Court justices facing retention elections in November don’t appear to be "activist" judges, but Florida voters should feel free to remove the trio from office over ideological differences, a law professor who studied the issue for a conservative legal group said Wednesday.

Elizabeth Foley, a law professor at Florida International University, said she examined nine controversial cases on behalf of the Washington, D.C.-based Federalist Society. She found no reason to believe that Justices R. Fred Lewis, Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince were "unprincipled" in reaching their decision, though Foley said she might disagree with some.

Opponents have argued that the three are judicial activists that voters should reject.

"I think you’re going to have a hard time making that label stick," Foley said.

However, she also took issue with members of the legal community who have questioned whether voters should consider a justice’s ideology in deciding whether to keep the justices. Foley said voters could weight that along with other factors, while supporters of the justices say it shouldn’t play a factor.

"That may be the ideal, but it’s not what the Florida Constitution says," Foley said.

Justices do not face opponents in the elections but must get the support of a majority of voters to remain on the court.