Florida Judge Jared Smith made headlines at the start of 2022 after he tried to deny a 17-year-old girl an abortion because, in his opinion, her GPA suggested she was too immature to make the decision without her parents. (Very logical that someone “not mature enough” to choose an abortion is perfectly fit to become a parent.)
Smith’s decision was thankfully overruled by an appeals court and, in August, Smith lost his reelection to the Hillsborough County Court. But now, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has appointed Smith to one of those appeals courts, effective on January 1. Yes, after voters kicked Smith to the curb, DeSantis decided to give him a job with more power than his old one.
If a minor in Florida wants an abortion, they either have to get parental permission or go before a judge to get what’s known as a judicial bypass. Florida is one of 36 states with a parental involvement law, per the Guttmacher Institute. It’s important to note here that anti-abortion activists are trying to get the Supreme Court to take a case that could end judicial bypass as an option and force teens in those states to involve their parents in abortion decisions—which could be unsafe for people with abusive families.
Smith also faced an antisemitism controversy during his campaign against challenger Nancy Jacobs, per the Tampa Bay Times: “Smith, an evangelical Christian, became the target of further criticism when a video surfaced of his wife speaking about Jacobs during a campaign appearance in a local church. In the video, Suzette Smith was heard saying that Jacobs, who is Jewish, ‘needs Jesus,’ among other comments.”
Smith lost to Jacobs in August by four points, 52 percent to 48 percent. As Jezebel’s Caitlin Cruz explained at the time, it appeared abortion was a factor in the nonpartisan election: “Still, there was indication of a partisan divide in the outcome. Jacobs solidly won the mail-in vote, 63,226 to 48,702, a trend seen among Democratic-leaning voters. Smith only marginally won the day-of voting, typically a Republican-heavy voting day.”
And while we’re on the topic of DeSantis and abortion, he’s definitely not done restricting the procedure in the state. He signed a 15-week abortion ban earlier this year and state lawmakers are preparing to pass a ban even earlier in pregnancy in the next session, which begins in March. And as a possible 2024 contender, DeSantis is already facing pressure to support a total abortion ban in the state, and nationwide. Good luck, Floridians.