Cuban-American federal judge could be nominated for Supreme Court of Justice

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President Donald Trump is considering Barbara Lagoa, a Miami-born federal appeals court judge, for a position on the Supreme Court following the death of Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg last Friday, according to news reports.

Lagoa, a 52-year-old Cuban-American who grew up in Hialeah, is a federal court of appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.

Lagoa is on a list of possible Supreme Court replacements that Trump published earlier this month.

Lagoa is one of two women on Trump’s short list, along with Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the Federal Court of Appeals for 7th Circuit, according to press reports.

When he left the White House on Saturday for a campaign event in North Carolina, Trump said the person selected for the nomination would “probably” be a woman. Although she said she doesn’t know Lagoa personally, she added that she knew she was “very respected” in Miami.

“He’s an extraordinary person,” Trump said. “I’ve heard amazing things about her. I don’t know her. She’s Hispanic and very respected.”

Ginsburg’s death has set the stage for a difficult nomination dispute, as Trump is pushing for a quick appointment and Democrats insist that the seat must remain open until after the November 3 presidential election, for which 44 days to go since Sunday.

 Democrats point out that Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, Republican for Kentucky, prevented Justice Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court candidate, from receiving a Senate confirmation hearing. At the time, McConnell and his Republican allies said the vacant post, stem from the February 2016 death of Judge Antonin Scalia, should not be filled because there were nine months to go until the presidential election.

This time McConnell has said the circumstances are different because the White House and Senate are occupied by the same political party. In 2016, Obama was the president while the Republican Party controlled the Senate.

In 2019, Lagoa became the first Hispanic woman in Florida Supreme Court, when Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed her to the high court in her first court selection as governor. She was also the first Cuban-American woman to join Miami’s federal appeals court in the Third District, where she later became her first Hispanic presiding judge, according to a biography published by the Florida Supreme Court.

Lagoa left Florida Supreme Court in December after Trump nominated her for federal appeals court. She graduated from Florida International University in 1989 and Columbia University School of Law in 1992, where she was a deputy director of Columbia Law Review. He attended Immaculate Conception School in Hialeah and Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, according to the Archdiocese of Miami.

Lagoa, who speaks fluent Spanish, is the daughter of exiled Cubans who fled the country more than 50 years ago when Fidel Castro came to power.

In 2000, as a private lawyer, Lagoa was part of the legal team that defended the relatives of Elián González, the Cuban boy who arrived in Miami and became trapped in a custody dispute between his father in Cuba and his relatives in Miami. Lagoa joined the federal prosecutor’s office in 2003, and in 2006 Governor Jeb Bush appointed her a member of the Third District Court of Appeals. In January 2019, when DeSantis announced Lagoa’s appointment to the state Supreme Court, he did so at La Torre de la Libertad in downtown Miami, a symbol for Cuban immigrants arriving in South Florida.

In his acceptance speech to the Florida Supreme Court, Lagoa noted that he would interpret the law as written and would not participate in judicial activism.

“It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the representatives of the people”

He said.

Lagoa has three children with her husband, Paul Huck Jr., a lawyer and son of Miamense federal judge Paul Huck Sr.

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