MIRAMAR, Fla. — Gov. Ron Desantis on Wednesday defended his appointment of a Palm Beach County judge to the Florida Supreme Court.
The governor appointed Renatha Francis to the high court in May.
Francis, a Palm Beach County circuit judge, was born in Jamaica and will be the first Caribbean-American to sit on the Florida Supreme Court.
However, U.S. Rep. Geraldine Thompson, D-Fla., filed a lawsuit to invalidate the appointment of Francis because she had not been a member of the Florida Bar for 10 years, as required by the state Constitution.
Francis was admitted to the Florida Bar on Sept. 24, 2010.
"Rather than celebrate this great achievement, we're now facing a politically motivated lawsuit attempting to prevent Judge Francis from taking office in just the next two weeks," DeSantis said during a news conference Wednesday. "Today, we're here to stand together on behalf of Judge Francis, and we all look forward to her assuming office later this month."
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Last month, the Florida Supreme Court agreed with Thompson, ruling that DeSantis exceeded his authority when he appointed Francis to the high court before she was eligible.
However, the court also ruled that "there is no legal justification for us to require a replacement appointment from a new list of candidates."
Thompson recently amended her lawsuit, asking that DeSantis be required to appoint one of the other candidates.
"What I saw in Judge Francis were qualities that I look for in any judge," DeSantis said. "She has a deep appreciation for what the Constitution and the rule of law represents."
Despite the controversy, Francis said Wednesday that she's grateful to serve on the Florida Supreme Court.
"I am truly the epitome of the American dream," Francis said. "And throughout it all, I've wanted more than to serve and to give back to this great state, to give back to this great country that has given me so much, and to be an inspiration to all people, all people, but especially young women, working moms and minorities."
Francis' appointment takes effect Sept. 24.