Conservative activist group boasts low retention votes for Florida Supreme Court Justices who threw out health care amendment

The federal health care law that has been a root source of so much voter angst not only threw a lot of Democrats out of office (or didn't give them the chance to serve) last week, it also gave two Florida Supreme Court Justices a relative scare as they were targeted by conservative activists for being part of the 5-2 majority that threw out Amendment 9 in September.

That amendment was voted onto the ballot by the Florida Legislature earlier this year. It would have prohibited the state from implementing any health care law that would have required citizens to purchase health care, the same individual mandate that has led Attorney General Bill McCollum and many other attorneys general to sue the government in federal court.

But in early September, the justices thew out the measure, saying that the measure was misleading.

When Florida voters went to the polls last week, they confronted a lengthy ballot in most counties, with plenty of the choices having to do with retaining justices, including the four men on the Florida Supreme Court named by Governor Charlie Crist in the past few years.

One activist group, called Citizen2Citizen, targeted Justices James C. Perry and Jorge Labarga.  Citizen2Citizen issued a press release Monday night, highlighting the fact that though they were not successful in ousting the two justices on the ballot (who were also joined on the ballot by newcomers Ricky Polston and Charles Canady), Labarga received the lowest retention vote since justices in Florida have had to go before the voters, getting 58.96% approval.

That's the lowest percentage that any justice has been retained by since Leland Shaw back in 1990, who was retained with 59.6% of the vote.

"While we are disappointed that Labarga and Perry were retained, the fact that we made history is significant," said Jesse Phillips, whose group Citizen2Citizen spearheaded the campaign. "We were able to reach hundreds of thousands of voters in six weeks with no money. Hopefully the court is now aware of the fact that Floridians care about their constitutional right to vote on ballot questions.

Justice Perry only received 61.7% in his retention vote, which Citizen2Citizen says is the fourth lowest in the 30 years that Florida voters have been voting on Supreme Court justices.

Canady got 67%, with perhaps some Democrats using the retention vote as a chance to express their dissatisfaction with the Chief Justice, who was one of the House "Managers" back in 1998-1999 that successfully impeached Bill Clinton back when Canady was in Congress representing the Polk County region.

In 2012, the three other justices who voted to throw out Amendment 9, Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince, are all up for retention.

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