A Florida judge who lost an election following a controversial abortion ruling was among three justices named to the new 6th District Court of Appeal by Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Jared Smith, who in August lost his Hillsborough County circuit court seat, joined Joshua Mize and Keith White — both of the 9th Judicial Circuit — to be appointed to the court of appeal Tuesday by the governor.
In January, Smith denied a petition from a 17-year-old Tampa high school junior who was seeking an abortion without parental consent, because, the judge said, she did not meet the intellectual standards needed to make a decision.
The teen had asked the court to waive a state requirement that requires parental notification and consent for minors to obtain abortions — something a judge can do if the judge finds "clear and convincing evidence" the minor in question is "sufficiently mature."
Smith questioned the teen's "overall intelligence," which he found to be less than average because "[while] she claimed that her grades were 'Bs' during her testimony, here GPA is currently 2.0. Clearly, a 'B' average would not equate to a 2.0 GPA," Florida Politics reported.
An appeals court in February overturned Smith's decision and allowed her to obtain an abortion.
Progressives, upset at the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, targeted Smith in the August election, which the judge lost by a 3.7-point margin.
DeSantis' Tuesday announcement of the appointments came less than a week after the Florida Supreme Court rejected a challenge over the eligibility of several appellate court candidates.
A December complaint had argued that two candidates for the 5th District and four for the 6th — including Smith — are ineligible because they live outside the districts' jurisdictions, Florida Politics reported.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody insisted that although judges must live in their given district, they don't need to meet that residency requirement until they are appointed.
"Given that the [state] Constitution provides for a 60-day period between a Commission’s certification of nominations and the gubernatorial appointment deadline, and in the absence of clear textual direction to the contrary, we cannot say the Constitution imposes an 'eligible at the time of nomination' requirement," Chief Justice Carlos Muniz wrote.
"Rather, we believe that the Constitution leaves to the commissions' discretion whether to nominate only candidates who are residents at the time of nomination."
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