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Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, as expected, has appointed the first Hispanic to serve on the state’s supreme court, Raoul G. Cantero III, long an appellate attorney at Adorno & Yoss in Miami and the grandson of former Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Cantero, 41, fills the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Major B. Harding and is Bush’s first solo appointment to Florida’s top court. Bush, who is up for re-election, had been urged to appoint a Hispanic to the court. Cantero joins a bench that now includes four white, non-Hispanic justices, including one woman, and two black justices, including one woman. Cantero is also one of the youngest Florida Supreme Court justices in history and the only finalist who was not a judge. The youngest was James D. Westcott Jr., who was 29 when he was appointed to the state supreme court in 1868. Calling the appointment “one of the most important decisions I’ll make as governor,” Bush said his appointment “proves that service on our state’s highest court is open to men and women of excellence from all backgrounds.” He also called Cantero “a man of exceptional character” who maintains a “healthy respect for the people’s right of self-government and a strong dose of humility.” Bush also made it clear in his announcement that he was appointing someone who would not “legislate” from the bench and impose his personal views, making an allusion to the California court that recently ruled on the Pledge of Allegiance. Born in Spain to Cuban parents, Cantero came to Miami when 9 months old. He graduated from Florida State University and, cum laude, from Harvard Law School. After clerking for U.S. District Judge Edward B. Davis, he went to work for Adorno & Zeder in 1988 (today Adorno & Yoss) where he heads the appellate department. He has handled more than 250 appeals and more than 100 oral arguments, appearing in all five state district courts of appeal and the Florida Supreme Court, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. Some of Cantero’s clients have included Aetna Life Insurance Co., Barnett Bank of South Florida, BellSouth Corp. and Waste Management Inc. Cantero has been a member of the Florida Bar’s Appellate Rules Committee since 1993 and is a member of the state’s 11th Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission. From 1993 to 2001, he was a member of the Coral Gables, Fla., Planning and Zoning Board. Cantero has been touched by controversy, however. He helped defend Orlando Bosch, an anti-Castro extremist who was labeled a terrorist by the U.S. government for his purported ties to bombing raids in Cuba. “Everybody has a right to an attorney and I have no problems that he was on the team,” Bush told the Associated Press. Cantero, a Catholic, once wrote a letter to the editor of The Miami Herald following the murder of an abortion doctor. The gunman, he said, “was thoroughly confused about Christian doctrine,” but added that “abortions kill children.”

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