Attorney Beltran both litigates against the state and serves as a Judicial Nominating Commissioner. He respectfully but strongly disagrees with a recent article claiming that Governor Scott “loves spending . . . tax dollars to fight his court battles.” As a practicing lawyer, Attorney Beltran can attest that nobody loves paying legal bills. Governor Scott has discharged his duty to protect the Florida Constitution. Many of the state’s legal positions have been sustained in trial courts or vindicated on appeal. For example, Florida recently prevailed in disputes involving prosecutorial discretion in pursuit of the death penalty and also appointment of Justices of the Supreme Court of Florida, to name just two cases.
21 million people produce over $800 billion worth of goods and services in Florida. Our legal problems are commensurate with our population and economy. Most Florida government lawyers (agency and retained) are hardworking professionals and diligent stewards of public funds. Governor Scott heavily subsidizes the operation of his office from his personal fortune. Very few large entities, let alone states, keep their legal spend, inclusive of settlements and judgments, to such a low ratio. Compared with our defense budget, $40 million is a small price to defend the Constitution.
As Alexander Hamilton noted, if judges exercise will instead of judgment, the result is the substitution of their pleasure for that of the elected lawmaking body. Unfortunately, it appears that, in the case discussed in the article, the Obama-appointed judge and the Plaintiff’s counsel, and not Governor Scott, disenfranchised the voters and wasted tax dollars. If the case will be moot in November, then why was it not dismissed under the political question doctrine or stayed pending the amendment process?