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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – The state’s Supreme Court has ruled that the next governor, not Gov. Rick Scott, will have the authority to appoint three justices to the Supreme Court.

The decision ends a long-running dispute about the power to appoint replacements for justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy Quince, who will leave the court in January because of a mandatory retirement age.

Scott, who will leave office in January, has maintained he had the authority to appoint the replacements. The high court justices disagreed.

“The governor who is elected in the November 2018 general election has the sole authority to fill the vacancies that will be created by the mandatory retirement of Justices Barbara J. Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince, provided the justices do not leave prior to the expiration of their terms at midnight between January 7 and January 8, 2019, and provided that the governor takes office immediately upon the beginning of his term,” Monday’s order said.

“I am pleased the Florida Supreme Court has brought closure to this important issue finding, as we have consistently stated, that the next Governor of Florida will appoint the next three Supreme Court justices. It is a duty I take extremely seriously and, as Governor, one of my top priorities will be to restore integrity to the judicial nominating process,” said Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat running for the governor’s office.

The appointments could help shape the court for decades.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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