Discover more from Wonkette
Florida Voters Abort Career Of Judge Who Ruled Teen Girl Wasn't Mature Enough For Abortion
Gosh that's too bad.
There may well be no real justice in the Universe, just a series of accidents. Gilda Radner was gone at 42, while Henry Kissinger seems set to survive until the dying Sun expands and devours Earth.
But once in a while, people do seem to get at least a little of what they deserve, like when 105-year-old Civil Rights activist Amelia Boynton, who was beaten by cops in Selma and attended the signing of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, was Barack Obama's guest for his 2015 State of the Union address. He met with her in the office of her old friend John Lewis, and told her, accurately, "I am here because of you." Talk about the moral arc of the universe!
Other times, people get what's coming to them in a more punitive sense, so let's turn our attention to Tuesday's judicial elections in Hillsborough County, Florida, where voters elected attorney Nancy Jacobs to replace incumbent Circuit Judge Jared Smith . Smith gained national notoriety in January when he ruled that a pregnant 17-year-old wasn't "mature" enough to be allowed to have an abortion, so she'd have to give birth. Fortunately, Smith's decision was reversed on appeal.
And now, in one of those rare cases where judges aren't simply reelected because voters don't know anything about judicial candidates, Smith has lost his seat, goodbye, despite somehow getting the endorsement of the Tampa Bay Times before the election.
We should also note that the case that made Smith notorious is different from a similar case Yr Wonkette covered earlier this month, in which a completely different 16-year-old girl was also found too immature to choose an abortion, so she would have to go ahead and be an immature teen mom. Unlike the case Smith ruled in, that more recent case was upheld on appeal, so there's little chance for the girl, who has no parents, to seek other relief. As Evan said at the time, the end of Roe will mean we'll be hearing al lot more about cases like these.
The case in which Smith ruled, from January, was actually concluded well before the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in June, but it almost certainly led to intense voter interest, and to Smith's defeat Tuesday. Under Florida's parental consent law, teens who can't get parental permission for an abortion (due to fear of abuse, lack of support from parents, and so on) can seek "judicial bypass" and ask a judge for a waiver, which is why "Jane Doe," the pregnant 17-year-old, went before Judge Smith. Her mother lives out of state, and her father doesn't believe in abortion rights.
As the appeals court decision explains , Smith ruled that the girl had less than average intelligence
because "[w]hile she claimed that her grades were 'Bs' during her testimony, her GPA is currently 2.0. Clearly, a 'B' average would not equate to a 2.0 GPA." The court reasoned, "Petitioner's testimony evinces either a lack of intelligence or credibility, either of which weigh against a finding of maturity pursuant to the statute."
We'll confess we aren't sure whether that means abortions are only allowed for Honors students, or for C students who don't put on airs about getting a fancy B average.
The appeals court noted that even a "C" GPA really is the definition of "average" for high school, and went on to note that the girl hadn't really fibbed about her grades at all. She had told her attorney that she was currently getting Bs in her classes. But when the judge asked about her current GPA, she said it was a 2.0; the appeals judges said that's not necessarily a contradiction, since the GPA reflects her performance over three years, and her current grades may have brought the GPA up to 2.0. “ At worst, her testimony created an ambiguity that neither questioner explored,” the decision explained, stating that was insufficient to support a finding that Jane Doe lacked either intelligence or credibility.
So yeah, the upshot here is that in Florida, you can be denied an abortion if a judge doesn't like your grades.
Also, if you'd really like to tear out your hair, Smith also suggested the girl hadn't shown "emotional maturity" because she only contributed basic chores around the house, and had no responsibilities in the care of younger siblings. The appellate judges note rather tartly that "the Petitioner testified that her youngest sibling is thirty. There is no record evidence establishing the existence of a younger family member."
Now, because Florida law prohibits judicial candidates from commenting on any legal cases, Ms. Jacobs didn't actually talk about the Jane Doe case during the campaign. But her supporters certainly did, as the Tampa Bay Times notes:
Hillsborough County Democratic Party chairperson Ione Townsend called it the county’s most significant election outcome from Tuesday’s elections and said, “I think it means that abortion is on the ballot.”
She said Smith “brought his religious beliefs into the courtroom and didn’t follow the law” in the abortion case.
“I think that by November, abortion rights, defending democracy and inflation will be the top three issues,” she said. “All around the country we are beginning to see women mobilizing.”
It might not have helped Smith too much that at one point in the campaign, his wife Suzette appeared to make an issue of the fact that Jacobs is Jewish:
"We pray for her. She needs Jesus," Suzette Smith said. "To deny God and to deny the Bible is a person that’s — the heart is very hard toward God.”
Jacobs called the comments "troubling" and accused the couple of "using their religion to insult and disparage the faith of an opposing candidate."
We wish Judge-elect Jacobs every success when she takes office in January, and hope that in his remaining months on the bench, Smith isn't able to ruin too many more girls' lives.
Yr Wonkette is funded by reader donations. If you can, please give $5 or $10 a month so we can keep figuring out halfway through writing that there are actually multiple terrible abortion cases coming out of Florida.