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Hillsborough judge replaced after controversial abortion ruling is running for Florida Supreme Court

Exterior of Florida Supreme Court building
Lauren Witte
Fresh Take Florida
Jared Smith will be interviewed alongside 14 others next month by a nominating commission that will then make recommendations to Governor Ron DeSantis.

The state's highest court is expected to hear a lawsuit over Florida's 15-week abortion ban in the coming months.

Jared Smith made national headlines after denying a Tampa teenager's request to obtain an abortion. In his ruling, Smith cited the minor's school grades as an example of why she wasn't capable of making that decision.

He also noted misspellings and grammatical errors in the girl’s petition.

An Appeals panel later overruled Smith's verdict to deny the teen a judicial bypass, a legal process that allows minors to get abortions without parental consent.

Smith lost his county judicial seat in the 2022 election but was later appointedby Governor Ron DeSantis to Florida's 6th District Court of Appeal in Lakeland.

Smith is one of 15 candidates vying to replace former Florida Supreme Court Justice Ricky Polston, who stepped down in March.

Filling the vacancy will mean DeSantis will have picked five of the court’s seven members, a potentially crucial factor for the future of the state's abortion laws.

Other contenders include Judge John K. Stargel of Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal.

Stargel, of Lakeland, is a former state legislator and the husband of former Florida Republican State Senator Kelli Stargel, who in 2022, filed the Senate bill to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Judge Stargel was the only dissenting vote in the decision that overturned Smith’s ruling blocking the teenager’s abortion.

As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.