Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis promotes judge recently ousted by voters


Judge Jared Smith's ruling that a 17-year-old was not entitled to an abortion on grounds that included her grade point average was overturned by an appeals court panel prior to his failure to win reelection.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis defied the will of voters in his state on Tuesday when he appointed to a seat on a state appeals court a judge who had just recently lost a race for reelection to his seat on a different court.

The judge, Jared Smith, lost a primary for his seat on the Hillsborough County Circuit Court in August. DeSantis appointed Smith to serve on Florida's 6th District Court of Appeal — which amounts to a promotion to a higher court, despite Smith's recent ouster at the hands of Florida voters.

Smith lost the primary after he made national news for denying a 17-year-old a judicial waiver in order to an abortion.

Citing the unnamed teen's grades, Smith had ruled that she had not met requirements for maturity or intelligence in order to get an abortion without parental consent. Florida law requires minors to get parental approval for abortions since DeSantis signed a parental consent bill into law in 2020; otherwise, they must obtain a judicial waiver of such consent, as the Jane Doe in the case was seeking to do.

A panel of the Court of Appeal for Florida's 2nd District overturned Smith's ruling, saying in its decision: "For appellate purposes, it is not necessary for the members of this panel to agree with her conclusions or to approve them. Rather, it is appropriate to measure each conclusion against the terms legislatively pronounced as factors to be considered. This record demonstrates that the Petitioner's testimony regarding the statutory factors was precise, explicit, and lacked any hint of confusion. It is of sufficient weight to entitle the Petitioner to the requested relief."

DeSantis' appointment of Smith to a higher court is not the first time he has defied the will of the voters in his state.

In August, DeSantis suspended twice-elected Democratic State Attorney Andrew Warren after Warren said he would not prosecute people for violating Florida's 15-week abortion ban or its ban on using Medicaid funds for gender-affirming health care. In response, DeSantis issued an executive order removing Warren from office, accusing him of "incompetence and willful defiance of his duties" and having a "fundamentally flawed and lawless understanding of his duties as a state attorney." Among the charges against him listed in DeSantis' order is that "Warren's declared refusal to prosecute abortion cases is alone sufficient to justify his suspension and removal for neglect of duty and incompetence."

A ruling in a lawsuit filed by Warren against DeSantis is expected shortly.

DeSantis is widely expected to run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.

A Morning Consult ongoing poll shows him rapidly gaining on former President Donald Trump in a potential primary matchup.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.