Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Criticizes Trump’s Judicial Appointments and Vows to Do Better in 2024

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has taken aim at former President Donald Trump’s judicial appointments, vowing to “do better” in selecting justices for the Supreme Court if he were to become president in 2024.[0] In a recent interview with Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, DeSantis criticized Trump’s three appointees, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, saying that “none of those three are at the same level of Justices Thomas and Justice Alito.”[1] DeSantis went on to say that his justices would be “along the lines of a Sam Alito and a Clarence Thomas.”[1] The governor, who is a potential presidential contender, also boasted of his own track record in appointing conservative justices to Florida’s state supreme court, saying that he had replaced three of the four liberal justices within his first month in office.

DeSantis’s comments have drawn criticism from Trump’s campaign, which accused the governor of “flip-flopping” on his previous praise of Trump’s nominees. In a statement, the campaign said that DeSantis’s “latest flip-flop has left many wondering if he tripped in his high-heel boots and hit his head or is simply hallucinating from his disastrous event in Oklahoma last weekend.”[2] The statement added that DeSantis seemed to have “forgotten countless statements he made in the past praising President Trump’s nominations of Justice Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.”[3]

Despite the criticism, DeSantis’s comments reflect a growing divide within the Republican Party over the direction of the judiciary. Trump’s appointment of three conservative justices to the Supreme Court was seen as a major victory for the party’s conservative wing, but some Republicans, including DeSantis, believe that the nominees were not conservative enough.

For DeSantis, the stakes are particularly high. As governor of Florida, he has worked to cement his reputation as a conservative stalwart, appointing seven conservative justices to the state supreme court and boasting of having “the most conservative constitutional Supreme Court of all 50 states.” If he were to run for president in 2024, he would likely face strong opposition from Trump and other Republicans who support the former president’s judicial legacy.

Despite the potential for a bitter primary fight, DeSantis has made it clear that he is committed to advancing a conservative agenda, both in Florida and on the national stage. His comments on judicial appointments reflect his belief that the judiciary is a key battleground in the culture wars that are roiling the country, and that conservative judges are essential to preserving traditional values and limiting the power of the federal government. Whether he can convince Republican voters to embrace his vision remains to be seen, but his willingness to take on Trump suggests that he is not afraid to chart his own course.

0. “DeSantis vows better justice appointees than Trump, ‘gold standard’ of Thomas and Alito” Florida’s Voice, 12 Jun. 2023, https://flvoicenews.com/desantis-vows-better-justice-appointees-than-trump-gold-standard-of-thomas-and-alito

1. “DeSantis Throws Some Serious Shade at Trump’s SCOTUS Picks” The Daily Beast, 12 Jun. 2023, https://www.thedailybeast.com/ron-desantis-throws-shade-at-trumps-scotus-picks

2. “Trump and DeSantis clash over Supreme Court picks: ‘Tripped in his high-heel boots'” Washington Examiner, 12 Jun. 2023, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/campaigns/trump-and-desantis-clash-over-scotus-picks-tripped-in-high-heel-boots

3. “Ron DeSantis says his SCOTUS picks would be ‘better than’ Donald Trump’s” Florida Politics, 12 Jun. 2023, https://floridapolitics.com/archives/617873-ron-desantis-says-his-scotus-picks-would-be-better-than-donald-trumps/

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