Decision 2020

Trump Campaigns in South Florida Before Announcing Supreme Court Nominee Pick

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In 24 hours, a judge with deep South Florida roots will find out wether she has been nominated for the United States Supreme Court.

The nomination would be the next gigantic step in the recent rise of Barbara Lagoa.

Lagoa has seen her career take off like a rocket ship over the last 20 months, and now she is on President Trump’s short list to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Trump was in Doral Friday, where many are pulling for him to pick Lagoa.  

It was initially thought that the President would meet with Lagoa during his time in South Florida, but the White House says the vetting process is taking place entirely in Washington.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images
MIAMI, FLORIDA - JANUARY 09: Newly sworn-in Gov. Ron DeSantis stands behind Barbara Lagoa as she speaks after he named her to the Florida Supreme Court on January 09, 2019 in Miami, Florida. Mr. DeSantis was sworn in yesterday as the 46th governor of the state of Florida.

Lagoa has been a trailblazer in her legal career, but some Florida Democrats believe she made a mistake in participating in a decision this month involving the efforts to restore voting rights for felons here in Florida.

Barbara Lagoa stepped into the spotlight in January of 2019 when at the Freedom Tower, the same building where her parents arrived from Cuba, she became the first Hispanic woman appointed to the Florida Supreme Court .  

Raised in Hialeah, she went to Pace High and FIU before going on to become an editor at Colombia Law School Review. Working for free, she was one of the attorneys representing Elian Gonzalez's Miami family fighting to keeping him in the U.S.

The high profile case opened doors as a litigator and federal prosecutor. She became the Chief Judge at the Florida Appeals Court for South Florida before her appointment to Florida’s Highest Court.

Generally considered a conservative jurist, Trump appointed her to the Federal Appeals Court for the Southeast U.S. 11months ago.

Jorge Silva, with the Coral Gables firm of Silva and Silva told NBC 6 that Lagoa's  “Willingness to not be married to one idea only is truly revolutionary.”

Silva said he has presented cases before Lagoa. “She is an independent thinker. She is not a rubber stamp and she will not under any circumstance succumb to pressure and do what one party versus another party would like her to do," he said.

The Washington Post is reporting Lagoa is being criticized by Democrats for participating in the controversial ruling preventing Florida felons who have served their sentences from being able to vote unless they finish paying fines and restitution.

When on the Florida Supreme Court, Lagoa was part of an advisory ruling to the governor on the requirement. A lower federal court said the felons didn’t have to pay.

But on September 11th, Lagoa joined in this appeals court ruling saying: “The District Court allows any felon who is unable to pay his fines or restitution to vote, because the felons failed to prove a violation of the Constitution, we reverse.“

Democrats say Lagoa should have recused herself from the 6 to 4 vote.

FIU law professor Howard Wasserman says Florida’s 29 electoral votes are a factor in her selection. “It is the hope that it would carry some political benefits.” Wasserman said.

“That would play very well with the Cuban American community in Florida constituency that he obviously that the President hopes to win over and it might also help him with other Latin American communities in other states.”

President Trump did not mention Lagoa to the group of Hispanics in Doral.

The President says he’s going to announce the selection on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. from the White House.   

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