President Donald Trump says the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was “an amazing woman” who lived an “amazing life.” (September 18)

AP Domestic

TALLAHASSEE – Federal Court of Appeal Judge Barbara Lagoa of Florida emerged on Saturday as a little-known frontrunner for President Donald Trump’s upcoming Supreme Court appointment.

As a successor to the late Associated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Lagoa, 52, would bring long legal experience in state and federal courts as well as two potential political benefits: She is a Cuban American from a battlefield state Trump desperately needs to win in November.

Trump praised Lagoa and another frontrunner, appellate court judge Amy Coney Barrett, in remarks to reporters Saturday. He said he has “heard for a long time” about Lagoa. “She is Spanish-speaking and highly respected,” the president also said.

Lagoa was only confirmed before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit last year after brief work in the Florida Supreme Court. But she served for a dozen years at the state’s 3rd Court of Appeal after being appointed by the then government. Jeb Bush. There she participated in more than 11,000 cases and wrote more than 470 statements.

The short list: Front runner to replace Ginsburg is a favorite among religious conservatives

Lagoa was among 20 people on a list that Trump revealed earlier this month as possible candidates for the Supreme Court. She is considered a protégé of the government of Florida, Ron DeSantis, a close Trump ally. In 2019, DeSantis named her the state’s highest court, making her the first Cuban American woman to serve there.

Lagoa was in the majority last week when the 11th constituency decided 6-4 that hundreds of thousands of Florida criminals who have earned their time cannot vote in the fall or in the future unless they pay fees and fines to the state.

More: The federal appeals court prevents Florida criminals from voting until fees and fines are paid

The decision along strict ideological lines, with all five judges appointed by Trump in the majority, could have a major impact on the presidential race because of Florida’s history with razor-sharp margins. In 2000, George W. Bush won the White House by a margin of 537 votes there.

“Florida’s crime franchise scheme is constitutional,” Lagoa wrote in a 20-page affiliation. “It is up to the citizens of the state of Florida and their elected state legislators, not federal judges, to make further changes to it.”

A graduate of Florida International University and Columbia University Law School, Lagoa, was raised in Hialeah, Fla., Daughter of parents from Cuba.

“Justice Lagoa’s documented commitment to upholding the rule of law, outstanding legal career and extensive experience on the bench sets her apart from the most qualified persons serving in our state’s Supreme Court,” DeSantis said when electing her to the state Supreme Court.

Lagoa, who was a registered Republican when he was elected by DeSantis, is a member of the conservative federalist community, which stresses that judges must “say what the law is, not what it should be.”

Prior to becoming a judge, she had been a lawyer for Miami firms, including the nationally prominent Greenberg Traurig. She was also an assistant federal prosecutor.

Trump nominated her for the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last September, and she was confirmed by an unusually skewed 80-15 Senate vote in November. Most of Trump’s nominees win confirmation narrowly.

Contribution: David Jackson

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