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DeSantis continues shifting Florida Supreme Court rightward with new appointment

Zac Anderson - May 23, 2023 

Gov. Ron DeSantis continued to reshape the Florida Supreme Court Tuesday with the appointment of Judge Meredith Sasso to replace Justice Ricky Polston, who resigned in March.

The appointment means that five of the Supreme Court's seven sitting justices are DeSantis appointees, which has allowed the governor to steer the court firmly to the right.

A 2008 graduate of the University of Florida's law school, Sasso worked in private practice and served as chief deputy general counsel for U.S. Sen. Rick Scott when he was governor. In 2019, DeSantis appointed her to the Fifth District Court of Appeal, and she moved to the Sixth District Court of Appeal in Lakeland this year.

Sasso DeSantis

Judge Meredith Sasso and her two children are pictured with Govenor Ron DeSantis, who appointed her to the Supreme Court on May 23, 2023. Photo Provided.

DeSantis in 2019 replaced three liberal-leaning justices with conservatives, swinging the balance of the court, which for years had stood as an obstacle to some of the conservative policies pushed by Republicans who controlled the Legislature and governor's mansion.

Sasso appears likely to continue pushing the court rightward. She is a member of the Federalist Society, which has helped shape some of the nation's most prominent conservative judges. All of DeSantis' Supreme Court appointees have been Federalist Society members.

DeSantis said Sasso's "fidelity to the Constitution will help preserve freedom in our state for generations to come," adding that she "understands the importance of our constitutional system and the rule of law."

Judge Sasso

Judge Meredith Sasso questions an attorney during oral arguments for the 
Sixth Dictrict Court of Appeals. Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed Sasso to the
Florida Supreme Court Tuesday. TBA, Ernst Peters/The Ledger

Sasso is the seventh woman to serve on the Supreme Court, which now has three female justices for the first time.

A Cuban American, Sasso grew up in Tallahassee. She is married with two children.

In her application for the Supreme Court seat, Sasso wrote that while working in the executive branch of government, she “gained an informed appreciation for the separation of powers.”

“Appropriate deference to coordinate branches is not a matter of courtesy; it is essential for the people’s chosen representatives to operate,” Sasso wrote. “Likewise, judicial decisions are not the only available solution to problems. When judges step outside their role, they often justify it by claiming an altruistic purpose of correcting a perceived injustice. But as judges, we should honor both our defined role and the overall system in which we operate.”

The Florida Justice Reform Institute, a legal group that advocates on issues such as limiting lawsuits against businesses, praised the appointment. William Large, the organization’s president, issued a statement that said the pick continued DeSantis’ efforts to carry out a promise to reshape the Supreme Court.

"The governor's appointment of Meredith Sasso to the Florida Supreme Court cements this promise of appointing justices with a proven record of embracing textualism and the notion that the courts should interpret our laws, not write them." Large said.

Sasso will join Chief Justice Carlos Muniz and Justices John Couriel, Jamie Grosshans and Renatha Francis as DeSantis appointees on the court. Justices Charles Canady and Jorge Labarga were appointed by then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist. 

Information from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.