TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — As Gov. Ron DeSantis prepares to fill the last of three Florida Supreme Court vacancies that opened the day he took office, black leaders are redoubling their efforts to convince the governor to throw out a list of nominees that doesn't include a single African-American.

With the constitutionally-mandated retirement of Justice Peggy Quince last week, the court now lacks an African-American jurist for the first time in 37 years.

Democrats and advocates of a diverse bench have been encouraging DeSantis to reject the nominees handed to him by the Judicial Nominating Commission — a panel packed with appointees of former Gov. Rick Scott — and order it to produce a new crop of candidates.

On the heels of the governor's recent appointments of Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck to the high court, the campaign has taken on a new sense of urgency. Sen. Perry Thurston (D-Ft. Lauderdale), the chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, reacted to the Luck appointment with a pointed message to DeSantis.

"With his last appointment to Florida's Supreme Court imminent, we are again urging Gov. Ron DeSantis to maintain diversity on our highest court. We know there are candidates not being considered that are highly qualified and represent Florida's diversity," Thurston said in a statement.

But some black leaders acknowledge that finding an African-American jurist with the conservative credentials DeSantis has suggested he prizes is a challenging task. He campaigned in part on remaking the Supreme Court, which has been dominated for decades by a liberal wing that, after last week's retirements, is now no more.

"I will only appoint judges who understand that the proper role of the courts is to apply the Constitution as written, not to legislate from the bench. The Constitution, not the judiciary, is supreme," the governor said in his inaugural address.

Rev. R.B. Holmes, Jr., an influential faith leader who led the benediction at DeSantis' inaugural, agrees with his fellow African-Americans serving in the legislature that the Supreme Court should include black representation. But the governor, he argues, is bound by certain inescapable allegiances to his base.

"This will be the first time in 37 years that we do not have an African-American, but I think and believe that the governor will get there. He has proven that he believes in diversity, that he's open, that's he's sensitive, so I think we'll get there," Holmes said in an interview, adding that he was largely encouraged by DeSantis' first week in office.