Florida Chief Justice Charles Canady Gives His Views on the Rule of Law
The Hon. Charles T. Canady, chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, addressed a group of about 60 students, faculty and members of the community, including many from the legal profession, at Florida Southern College.
LAKELAND (Oct. 28, 2011) – The Hon. Charles T. Canady, chief justice of the Florida Supreme Court, addressed the first session of a new lecture series at Florida Southern College, explaining the work of the Supreme Court and giving his views on the rule of law.
Canady spoke to a group of about 60 students, faculty and members of the community, including many from the legal profession. The luncheon and lecture series, Legally Speaking, was organized by Phi Alpha Delta, the pre-law fraternity at FSC, to bring together members of the legal community, professionals, students and the public for meaningful discussions about timely legal issues facing society.
Canady told the audience the role of appellate judges is to abide by the texts of the federal and state constitutions and of legal statutes. A judge should determine their meaning but should not predetermine a decision based on the judge’s views of what’s right, he said.
“The legislature determines what’s moral and right. I’m not there to impose my view of justice and morality,” he said. “Where you have judges doing what they want, that’s not the rule of law, that’s the rule of judges.”
Canady said the courts should not be barometers of public opinion but should be “faithful servants of the law and the Constitution.”
“The whole reason for the rule of law is to exercise restraint on the use of power, and you can’t have the rule of law without the courts,” he said. “What we have in our Constitution is marvelous. It’s a great blessing to us as a people, because it has enabled us to live without the kind of fear that people in many nations live under, that if they speak out there will be a knock on their door in the night.”
Canady, a native of Lakeland, served three terms in the Florida House of Representatives and four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. He was appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush to the Second District Court of Appeals in 2002 and was appointed to the Supreme Court in 2008 by Gov. Charlie Crist.