Barbara Lagoa

Barbara Lagoa
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Assumed office
December 6, 2019
Appointed byDonald Trump
Preceded byStanley Marcus
Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida
In office
January 9, 2019 – December 6, 2019
Appointed byRon DeSantis
Preceded byR. Fred Lewis
Succeeded byJohn D. Couriel
Chief Judge of the Florida Third District Court of Appeal
In office
January 1, 2019 – January 8, 2019
Preceded byLeslie Rothenberg
Succeeded byKevin Emas
Judge of the Florida Third District Court of Appeal
In office
June 2006 – January 9, 2019
Appointed byJeb Bush
Preceded byDavid Levy
Succeeded byMonica Gordo
Personal details
Born (1967-11-02) November 2, 1967 (age 53)[1]
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Spouse(s)Paul Huck Jr.
EducationFlorida International University (BA)
Columbia University (JD)

Barbara Lagoa (born November 2, 1967)[1] is an American attorney and jurist serving as a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Prior to becoming a federal judge, she was the first Hispanic woman to be appointed as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida.[3][4]

Early life and education

Lagoa was born in Miami, Florida, in 1967.[1][5] A Cuban-American, Lagoa is the daughter of parents who fled from Cuba following the Revolution and the assumption of power by Fidel Castro.[6] She grew up in the majority Cuban-American city of Hialeah, Florida.[7] She is bilingual.[8] Lagoa earned a Bachelor of Arts, cum laude, in 1989 from Florida International University, where she majored in English and was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. She received her Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School in 1992; while at Columbia, she was an Associate Editor of the Columbia Law Review.[7]


Early career

In 2000, Lagoa was one of a dozen mostly-pro bono lawyers who represented the Miami family of Elián González.[9] In 2003, she became an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, working in the Civil, Major Crimes, and Appellate Sections.

Florida Supreme Court

Lagoa was appointed to the Third District Court of Appeal by Governor Jeb Bush in June 2006 and became Chief Judge on January 1, 2019.[10][11] On January 9, 2019, she was appointed to the Supreme Court of Florida by Governor Ron DeSantis. She was the first Hispanic woman and the first Cuban American woman to sit on the Florida Supreme Court.[12] In April 2019, Lagoa wrote for the unanimous court when it found that DeSantis acted within his authority by suspending Sheriff Scott Israel for his response to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.[13][14]

In November 2019, Lagoa participated in oral arguments concerning an advisory opinion on whether the governor could require those felons whom voters had re-enfranchised through 2018 Florida Amendment 4 to pay fines before being allowed to vote.[15][16] Lagoa resigned her position when she was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.[17]

Federal judicial service

On September 12, 2019, President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Lagoa to a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.[18] She was nominated to the seat being vacated by Judge Stanley Marcus.[19] On October 15, 2019, her nomination was sent to the Senate.[20] On October 16, 2019, a hearing on her nomination was held before the Senate Judiciary Committee.[21] On November 7, 2019, her nomination was reported out of committee by a vote of 18–4.[22] On November 19, 2019, the Senate invoked cloture on her nomination by a vote of 80–15,[23] and on the next day, November 20, confirmed her nomination by a vote of 80–15.[24] She received her judicial commission on December 6, 2019.

In July 2020, Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote directly to Lagoa urging her to recuse herself from a challenge to felon disenfranchisement in Florida due to her earlier participation in a related matter on the Florida State Supreme Court.[15] Lagoa and fellow Judge Robert Luck declined to recuse themselves stating that "An objective, disinterested lay person, knowing that we asked questions in a different proceeding (advisory vs. case-and-controversy), in a different court (Florida Supreme Court vs. federal court), with different issues (interpreting the state constitution vs. federal constitutional questions), and with different participants (“interested persons” vs. parties), would not reasonably entertain a significant doubt about our impartiality in this case."[25][26] In September 2020, Lagoa joined the majority when the en banc circuit, by a vote of 6–4, upheld the constitutionality of the law the Florida legislature had passed required re-enfranchised felons to pay all financial obligations, including fines, fees, and restitution before being allowed to vote.[27] Lagoa joined Chief Judge William H. Pryor Jr.'s majority opinion, joined Pryor's additional concurrence, and authored her own concurrence.[28][29]

Potential Supreme Court nomination

On September 9, 2020, Trump included Lagoa on a list of potential nominees to the United States Supreme Court.[30] After the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18, 2020, Lagoa was mentioned as one of several front-runners to fill the vacancy created by Ginsburg's death.[31][32][33]

The Washington Post reported that colleagues, friends, and scholars who have followed Lagoa's career describe her as "quiet and collegial, with shrewd political instincts."[34] Her potential nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court was supported by a broad cross-section of Florida Republicans. Lagoa and her husband have built up "years of Florida's legal and political circles."[34] Had she been successfully nominated, she would have been the first Supreme Court justice from Florida.

On September 26, 2020, President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.[35]

Personal life

Lagoa is married to lawyer Paul C. Huck Jr., and her father-in-law is United States District Judge Paul Huck, a Clinton appointee.[7] Lagoa and her husband have three daughters, including a set of twins.[34] Lagoa is a practicing Roman Catholic, who cites Catholic education as instilling "an abiding faith in God that has grounded me and sustained me through the highs and lows of life".[36]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Application of Barbara Lagoa to the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission" (PDF). Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission. 2018. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  2. ^ Semones, Evan (September 19, 2020). "What you need to know about Barbara Lagoa". Politico.
  3. ^ Ovalle, David (January 9, 2019). "Miami's Barbara Lagoa is the next Florida Supreme Court justice". The Miami Herald.
  4. ^ "Federalist Society Contributor: Barbara Lagoa".
  5. ^ Voruganti, Harsh (November 15, 2019). "Justice Barbara Lagoa – Nominee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit". Vetting Room. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  6. ^ Van Sickler, Michael (September 19, 2020). "Trump considering this Florida justice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg". Tampa Bay Times.
  7. ^ a b c "DeSantis Picks Female Cuban-American For State's High Court".
  8. ^ Kelley, Eileen (September 20, 2020). "Five things to know about Barbara Lagoa, rumored to be on Trump's short list for Supreme Court". Florida Sun Sentinel. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  9. ^ Chardry, Alfonso; Weaver, Jay (May 5, 2000). "Rival campaigns helping to pay for lawyers in Elian case". The Miami Herald – via Latin American Studies.
  10. ^ "Biography of Judge Barbara Lagoa". Archived from the original on July 28, 2007.
  11. ^ "Justice Barbara Lagoa". Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  12. ^ Cole, Devan; de Vogue, Ariane; Polantz, Katelyn. "Meet Barbara Lagoa, one of Trump's top contenders for the Supreme Court". KCTV Kansas City. Retrieved September 22, 2020.
  13. ^ Fineout, Gary; Atterbury, Rew (April 23, 2019). "Florida Supreme Court upholds suspension of embattled Broward sheriff". Politico. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  14. ^ Israel v. DeSantis, 269 So. 3d 491 (Fla. 2019).
  15. ^ a b Stern, Mark Joseph (July 22, 2020). "Two Trump Judges Broke Ethics Rules to Stop Up to 1 Million Floridians From Voting in November". Slate Magazine. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  16. ^ "SC19-1341 Advisory Opinion to the Governor Re: Implementation of Amendment 4, (Voting Restoration)". YouTube. Florida Supreme Court. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  17. ^ "What They Are Saying: Florida Leaders React to Governor Ron DeSantis' Appointment of Barbara Lagoa to the Florida Supreme Court". flgov. January 9, 2019.
  18. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Judicial Nominees". – via National Archives.
  19. ^ "Twenty-five Nominations and Three Withdrawals Sent to the Senate". – via National Archives.
  20. ^ "Pres. Nom. 1171". 116th Cong. (2019).
  21. ^ "Nominations | United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary".
  22. ^ "Results of Executive Business – November 7, 2019, Senate Judiciary Committee" (PDF).
  23. ^ "On the Cloture Motion (Motion to Invoke Cloture: Barbara Lagoa to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit)". United States Senate. November 19, 2019. Retrieved November 19, 2019.
  24. ^ "On the Nomination (Confirmation: Barbara Lagoa to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the Eleventh Circuit)". United States Senate. November 20, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  25. ^ Moline, Michael (July 27, 2020). "Judges Lagoa, Luck refuse to withdraw from appeal affecting felon voting rights in FL". Florida Phoenix.
  26. ^ "Order" (PDF).
  27. ^ Mazzei, Patricia (September 11, 2020). "Ex-Felons in Florida Must Pay Fines Before Voting, Appeals Court Rules". The New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  28. ^ Kennedy, John; Wolf, Richard. "Trump eyes Cuban American judge from Florida for Supreme Court". USA Today. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  29. ^ "Jones v. Governor of Florida" (PDF). No. 20-12003 (11th Cir. Sept. 11, 2020).
  30. ^ "Remarks by President Trump on Judicial Appointments". – via National Archives.
  31. ^ Johnson, Carrie; Keith, Tamara (September 19, 2020). "Sources: Trump Considers Barrett, Lagoa, Rushing For Supreme Court Spot". NPR. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  32. ^ Wolf, Richard; Kennedy, John (September 19, 2020). "Trump eyes Cuban American judge from Florida for Supreme Court". USA Today. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  33. ^ Semones, Evan (September 19, 2020). "What you need to know about Barbara Lagoa". Politico. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  34. ^ a b c Stanley-Becker, Isaac; Davis, Aaron (September 20, 2020). "Barbara Lagoa, Cuban American judge, rises on Trump's Supreme Court list as allies emphasize Florida campaign edge". Washington Post. Retrieved September 21, 2020.
  35. ^ BBC News, report published 26 September 2020
  36. ^ Zimmermann, Carol. "Two Catholic women judges top short list as possible Supreme Court nominees". National Catholic Reporter. National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved September 21, 2020.

External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
R. Fred Lewis
Justice of the Supreme Court of Florida
Succeeded by
John D. Couriel
Preceded by
Stanley Marcus
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit


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