Ron DeSantis Appoints Judge Renatha Francis to the Florida Supreme Court

Renatha Francis, a Palm Beach County circuit judge, gives her remarks after being appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis to the Florida Supreme Court during a news conference on Tuesday, May 26, 2020, inside the Miami-Dade Public Library main branch in downtown Miami. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images, Carl Juste/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images,

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Friday announced the appointment of Judge Renatha Francis to the Florida Supreme Court, deeming her a judge with true appreciation for the constitutional system.

“What we’ve seen in our country over many, many decades is judges that have taken power away from people’s elected representatives, and they have legislated from the bench, and that’s not their role,” DeSantis said during a presser in Palm Beach County.

“Their role is to apply the law and Constitution as it’s written. I deal with the legislature we have a good relationship. But you know, the legislators don’t always do great laws. Sometimes they do things that don’t work out as a matter of policy, but that’s not the judge’s job, to sit there as a council of revision and change the law. It’s the people’s job to elect people to change it as they see fit,” he said, emphasizing the importance of courts “discharging the duties that they have under the Constitution within the confines of those limitations.”

DeSantis used his preview to announce the appointment of Judge Renatha Francis, who will be replacing Florida Supreme Court Justice Al Lawson, who is retiring.

“She’s had other careers before she got into law,” he said, explaining that he considered that a “good thing to take someone that came from different backgrounds rather than someone that was born into a legal family.”

“She was somebody that was born in Jamaica, immigrated from Jamaica, and then really took on law as kind of her second career and has excelled very well,” he said, deeming her someone who “understands what the proper role of the judge is in America’s constitutional system.”

He also emphasized her background as an immigrant, who “probably has more appreciation for our constitutional system” than those who were born in the U.S.:

I think sometimes people that are born here take it for granted because they don’t have any point of reference to be able to compare a free society in America versus different parts of the world. That’s why you see some of the people that have been, you know, really, really strong in the state of Florida for upholding individual freedom and the rule of law. I mean, people whose families escaped from communism in Cuba, places like Nicaragua …

DeSantis added that he believes she will serve as a “source of inspiration” for young people.

“I stand before you the epitome of the American dream. My beginnings are humble,” Francis said during her brief remarks, detailing her background growing up on a small island.

She said she ultimately set out to find her place on “the shining city on a hill,” never imagining it would lead her to where she is standing now. 

“I’m not only grateful, I’m humbled that I get to be a part of this great American experiment and to serve at the highest level of a State Judiciary,” she said, emphasizing the need to respect and observe the “limited role that judges play in our constitutional system of government.”

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