Supreme Court Justice

Trump's List of Potential Supreme Court Nominees Includes a Cuban-American Miami Native

NBC Universal, Inc.

What to Know

  • 52-year-old Barbara Lagoa, a Miami native currently serving as a circuit judge, is reportedly among Trump's top picks for a Supreme Court nominee
  • Lagoa attended Florida International University and Columbia Law School before working as a pro bono lawyer for Elian Gonzalez's family
  • She was chosen by Gov. Ron DeSantis to serve as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida in January of 2019

Of the handful of frontrunners President Donald Trump is considering to replace Supreme Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who passed away Friday at the age of 87, one is a South Florida native who would be the first Cuban-American woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

On Monday, the president confirmed that Barbara Lagoa, whom he appointed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in 2019, is among his top contenders for the post alongside Amy Coney Barret, a devout Catholic from Indiana also working as a circuit judge.

Lagoa was the first Hispanic woman to be appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida, a post she was picked for by Governor Ron DeSantis in January of 2019.

A Cuban-American, Lagoa went to PACE High School and also attended Florida International University prior to heading off to Columbia Law School.

Lagoa worked as a pro bono lawyer for Elian Gonzalez's family before spending more than a decade as a judge on a Florida appeals court. She is now serving as a U.S. Circuit Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit after Trump appointed her in 2019.

During a tele-rally with Virginia residents that was streamed on Facebook live last week, President Trump confirmed his plans to nominate a woman to the Supreme Court.

"We have tremendous women on the list, as you know, and it will be a highly qualified person and it will be a woman that we choose, and the nomination will be put forth some time next week," Trump announced.

NBC news reports that Barrett has long been a favorite among conservatives, while Lagoa has been pushed by some aides who tout her electorate advantages of being Hispanic and hailing from the key battleground state of Florida. Allison Jones Rushing, a 38-year-old appellate judge from North Carolina, is also on the short-list.

Whether or not the president will be successful in replacing Ginsberg's seat with any of these women will be up to the Senate. Republicans hold a 53-47 edge, but so far two GOP senators, Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, have said they will vote to oppose filling the seat before the election.

If there were a 50-50 tie, it could be broken by Vice President Mike Pence.

Trump said he plans on announcing a nominee by the end of this week, which would leave less than 40 days for the Senate to hold a confirmation vote before the election.

No nominee has won confirmation that quickly since Sandra Day O’Connor became the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court in 1981. O’Connor was confirmed 99-0 just over a month after she was nominated by President Ronald Reagan.

After Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death on Friday, impromptu memorials sprang up around the nation's capital and across the country as people celebrated her legacy and mourned her death.

If Lagoa were to be nominated and confirmed by the Senate, she would be the second Latina and first Cuban-American woman to serve on the Supreme Court. Current Justice Sonia Sotomayor became the first Latina appointee when she was nominated by former President Barack Obama.

Jason Unger, former chairman of the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, said that Lagoa is "Well-liked by both sides of the aisle."

"She was one of the 11 that we nominated to Governor Ron DeSantis," Unger added. "We did the deep vetting, as we do on everyone that applies for the Florida Supreme Court, and the vetting that came back on her was just spectacular."

At 52, Lagoa would also be the youngest justice on the Supreme Court. A lifetime appointment to the court would allow her to serve for decades to come.

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