Gov. Ron DeSantis gives his inaugural speech after being sworn in as the 46th Governor of Florida.Tori Schneider, Tallahassee Democrat
TALLAHASSEE – On his first full day as Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis made his mark by announcing a Supreme Court appointment and starting a process that might undo a flurry of “lame-duck” appointments made by Rick Scott before he left office.
One of the last-minute appointments Scott made among more than 100 announced in his final days was naming to the state’s wildlife commission a developer who once ran against DeSantis.
“We requested weeks ago that the Scott administration stop making appointments, and they made us know they had no reverence for that request,” said U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach, a close ally of DeSantis and a transition team member.
While acknowledging the transition between DeSantis and Scott was rocky, the new governor’s administration is settling in as DeSantis becomes more comfortable with his executive power.
His first major appointment came Wednesday, when he named Barbara Lagoa to serve on Florida’s Supreme Court.
Lagoa, the first Cuban-American woman to serve on the state’s highest court, was identified earlier by DeSantis among a list of nominees he was considering for three appointments that could reshape the liberal-leaning court.
DeSantis had vetted the Miami judge for the lieutenant governor position, which eventually went to Lt. Gov. Jeannette Nunez, Gaetz said.
There are seven other finalists to fill the two other empty seats on the high court. Those candidates, whom DeSantis said he has personally interviewed, include former Republican state lawmaker Bruce Kyle, a judge in the 20th circuit that includes Lee County; and Timothy Osterhaus, a judge in the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee.
There are no African-American nominees on DeSantis’ final list, meaning there will be no black justices in Florida’s highest court after the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince. DeSantis said he did not know the race of the candidates before he met with them individually.
“I will only appoint judges who understand the proper role of the courts is to apply the law and Constitution as written, not to legislate from the bench,” DeSantis said shortly after being sworn in Tuesday as Florida’s 46th governor.
While he hit the ground running with the Supreme Court appointment, he is expected to take some time reviewing the last-minute appointments made by Scott.
DeSantis took a moment during his inauguration speech Tuesday to praise Scott as he was leaving office after two terms to become Florida's newest U.S. senator.
"Senator, your laser-like focus on improving Florida's economy has meant so much in the lives of so many in our state," DeSantis said. "You are leaving a strong foundation from which we here today can build."