ORLANDO, Fla. — More than two dozen candidates vying for a pair of open seats on the Florida Supreme Court will make their final pitch for the jobs this weekend in Orlando.

The state's Judicial Nominating Commission will host 32 candidates — largely a mix of attorneys and judges from across the state — during a series of half-hour interviews on the fourth floor of the Hyatt Regency hotel inside Orlando International Airport.

The nine members of the Judicial Nominating Commission are gubernatorial and state appointees. The JNC is given sole authority by law to interview the candidates and to create a list of finalists for the governor to consider. State law requires the governor fill the vacancies only from the list of finalists produced by the JNC.

The two vacancies on the state high court were created when President Donald Trump nominated freshmen justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck to fill two federal appeal seats on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeal in Atlanta, Georgia. 

Although the candidates’ applications, which provide insight into their legal experience and financial ties, have not yet been made available, a preliminary search shows the list comprises 27 judges and 3 attorneys. Racially, the list includes 13 white men, 3 white women, 3 black men, and 2 black women.

A coalition of black state legislators are calling on the JNC to present Gov. Ron DeSantis with one or more black candidates.

“We’ve had meetings with the Governor, we’ve talked about the need for diversity,” said Democratic state Rep. Bruce Antone of Orlando, who also serves as chairman of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus. “There are three African American candidates in the pool to be interviewed for two vacancies on the Supreme Court, so I think the Judicial Nominating Commission is making a step in the right direction to ensure there’s diversity, but it is important.”

Soon after assuming office at the beginning of 2019, DeSantis had to fill three seats on the state’s top court. Leaders in the black community and voting rights groups assailed the commission for failing to present DeSantis with a list of candidates that contained a black jurist to replace the Florida Supreme Court’s sole black justice at the time, Peggy Quince.

Some say the governor, not the commission, should have the ultimate authority to decide whether a black justice ought to sit on the state's high court, because the governor is directly accountable to voters, unlike commissioners, who are appointees. 

The candidates will be interviewed for 30 minutes each on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The JNC is expected to give a list to the governor by January 25.