Politically connected conservatives tapped for key state appellate court

Florida First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee. Photo by Michael Rivera, Wikimedia Commons

Federalist Society members will fill two vacancies on 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee – arguably the second-most important state court because it hears appeals involving Florida government, including constitutional challenges to state laws and administrative actions.

Gov. Ron DeSantis tapped Rachel Nordby, a partner at Shutts & Bowen in Tallahassee, and Adam Tanenbaum, general counsel for the Florida House, from among nine candidates for 1st DCA seats submitted to the governor by the judicial nominating commission for the court.

The Florida Phoenix reviewed the backgrounds of all nine candidates, finding that none were members of minority groups.

When the two new judges take their seats, the court will comprise 10 men and five women, including one African American judge.

Republican governor DeSantis vowed to deliver on his promise to build a more conservative judiciary, with help from the Federalist Society.

The organization is a conservative/libertarian legal advocacy organization from which DeSantis – himself reportedly a member – has drawn for numerous appointments to judgeships and court nominating commissions.

The pair fill vacancies created by the appointments of judges Allen Windsor and Kent Wetherell to seats on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

In private practice, Nordby concentrated on appellate work before the Florida Supreme Court and 1st DCA involving governmental and constitutional law. Earlier, she served as senior deputy solicitor general within the Florida Attorney General’s Office. She is a graduate of the Florida State University College of Law.

Tanenbaum undertook his House job in 2016. He also has worked at private law firms including Carlton Fields, Kay Scholer, and a solo practice; and has done political and government work for the Republican Party of Florida. He also has worked as general counsel to the Florida Department of State as chief deputy solicitor general in the Attorney General’s Office. He earned his J.D. at Georgetown University Law Center.

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