Sasso, 40, will succeed Judge Ricky Polston, who resigned earlier this year and was hired as the new general counsel of Citizens Property Insurance, the insurer of last resort for Florida residents.

She joins a state Supreme Court that continues to hear important challenges to DeSantis’ authority and laws passed by Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature. The court is currently hearing a legal challenge to Florida’s existing ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The ruling upholding the ban would lead to a tougher six-week ban that DeSantis signed into law this year.

Andrew Warren, a Democratic politician and state attorney ousted by DeSantis in August 2022, also petitioned the Supreme Court to reinstate him. Warren initially sued in federal court, in which a federal judge criticized the governor’s actions but said he had no authority to overturn DeSantis’s actions.

DeSantis has shifted the court to the right during his tenure, starting with three appointments he made when he first became governor because three justices had reached mandatory retirement age. Two of his picks were later selected by then-President Donald Trump to seats on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

“They were all solid,” DeSantis said of his appointments during a Monday evening speech he gave at the National Convention of Religious Broadcasters in Orlando. “They understand the law and the constitution. Judicial activism in Florida is now officially dead. We killed it with these courts.”

Sasso was one of six finalists given to DeSantis for consideration by the state’s judicial commission. DeSantis, who has praised U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, has remained relatively quiet about the vetting process for state Supreme Court justices.

DeSantis said on a podcast last year with Hugh Hewitt that he relied on “six or seven pretty big conservative heavyweights” to pick candidates. But even during this podcast, DeSantis declined to say who is advising him. A lawsuit was filed in the state archives to seek that information, but the governor’s office is fighting it.

Sasso, a graduate of the University of Florida School of Law and a member of the conservative Federalist Society, served as an assistant general counsel to former Gov. Rick Scott before Scott appointed her to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019. She was transferred to the newly created 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Lakeland late last year.

Among the references Sasso listed were former Justice Alan Lawson, Nick Primrose, former deputy general counsel for Scott & DeSantis, and Ben Gibson, who represented the Florida Republican Party and the Republican National Committee in election-related litigation.

“I am honored that Governor Ron DeSantis is entrusting me with this position,” Sasso said in a statement. “The judiciary plays an important and unique role in our constitutional government, and I am strongly committed to upholding the rule of law for as long as I have the honor to serve.”

Sasso is married to Michael Sasso, an Orlando attorney whom DeSantis appointed to serve on the Central Florida District Tourism Oversight Board, a state-created board that is currently fighting a legal battle with Disney over control of thousands of acres the entertainment company owns. Sasso also listed Glenn Gilzean, who was hired earlier this month as county administrator, as a reference in her court filing.


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