as Bureau Chief of the Criminal Appeals Division in the Tampa office of the Florida Attorney General before earning an appointment to the 2nd District Court of Appeals.
Yet an uneasy feeling roiled underneath all the event’s special moments. The folks who celebrated with Quince know that for the first time in 36 years, the state Supreme Court likely will not have an African-American member when Gov. Ron DeSantis fills three vacancies this year.
None of the 11 selected by the Supreme Court Nominating Commission are African-American, although six of the original 59 applicants were African-Americans.
“In addition, the presence of African-Americans on the appellate bench is equally in peril,” former state representative Sean Shaw said in addressing the audience. “We owe it to those who came before us and to those who come after us in calling out that wrong, and to refuse to let it be explained away. The legacies we are here to honor demand no less of us.”
Shaw’s words may prove prophetic unless DeSantis asks the commission to reconvene and expand the pool of finalists.
A group of prominent AfricanAmerican legal leaders, including former State Sen. Arthenia Joyner and longtime Tampa attorney Delano Stewart, have requested a meeting with DeSantis. But last week, DeSantis expressed frustration with the state Supreme Court’s past decisions and with the court “usurping more and more legislative” power.
Maintaining diversity on the court and choosing candidates based on legal experience should stand as a greater priority than finding justices who share a certain legal philosophy.
And if you must, do both. Quince’s legacy, at the very least, demands a thoughtful consideration from the governor on this issue. What better way to honor her? What better way to honor every Floridian.
That’s all I’m saying.