Judge Jared Smith, who garnered widespread media attention at the beginning of the year, has formally lost his position on the Florida state bench. Why was he in the news? Smith refused to perform an abortion on an adolescent because her “B” grades indicated she wasn’t mature enough. Voters currently believe that he should leave as of Tuesday night.
Nancy L. Jacobs defeated Smith by over 8,000 votes in a low turnout race. Florida judges are not enrolled with a party. Hence the state’s judicial elections are non-partisan. However, there was evidence of a political gap in the result. Jacobs easily prevailed in the mail-in vote, 63,226 to 48,702, following a pattern among voters who lean Democratic. Smith won on election day, a day with a high Republican turnout.
While Smith had many run-ins with the local media in August, the abortion vote kept making news. The Tampa Bay Times editorial board also supported Smith despite the controversy.
Teenagers in Florida must obtain parental consent before having an abortion, but if they cannot do so for various reasons—such as danger or a lack of support—a process known as the judicial bypass is available. Minors who want to undergo an abortion without their parent’s involvement must seek a judge for a waiver. Sadly, the Guttmacher Institute reports that at least 36 states demand parental input in this medical decision.
Remembering that she is a child, Jane Doe, a 17-year-old girl, appeared in Smith’s Hillsborough County courtroom at the beginning of this year. Smith initially ruled that the girl was inconsistent because, while claiming to be receiving Bs at one point, she had a 2.0-grade point average. She “evinces either a lack of intelligence or credibility, either of which weighs against a judgment of maturity according to the Act,” according to Smith.
The girl did not willfully exaggerate her grades, however, according to the appeal court’s conclusions. She was just questioned about her steps by two different persons using somewhat different language. The 2-1 ruling stated that “at worst, her testimony produced an ambiguity that neither questioner investigated.”
Smith previously held the job for five years, and it is unknown how many young reproductive lives his decisions have impacted. After the year, Smith’s term comes to an end.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Jacobs said she anticipates taking a seat on the state bench at the beginning of next year and “ensuring that the people of Hillsborough County who enter my courtroom are treated with respect, dignity, and integrity every day.”
No matter their grades, Smith has four months to try to take away minors’ ability to govern their bodies.