Gov. Ron DeSantis made the first of three decisions Wednesday morning that will likely shift the philosophical makeup of the Florida Supreme Court and affect court rulings for years to come. DeSantis chose Florida Third District Court of Appeals Judge Barbara Lagoa to fill the seat of retiring Justice R. Fred Lewis.
Lewis is one of three members of the court who reached the mandatory retirement age for judges in Florida. Along with Lewis, justices Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince have also retired. The three were known to comprise the more liberal arm of the court that made a difference in a number of court rulings over the years.
Lewis and Pariente were appointed solely by Democrat Governor Lawton Chiles in the late 1990’s, and the third, Peggy Quince, was appointed through a joint agreement between Chiles and incoming Governor Jeb Bush,
Lagoa is the first Cuban-American woman to serve on Miami’s appeals court. Her appointment to the state Supreme Court is effective immediately.
“Justice Lagoa’s proven commitment to upholding the rule of law, unparalleled legal career and vast experience on the appellate bench distinguish her among the most qualified individuals to serve on our state’s highest court,” said Gov. DeSantis. “It is my pleasure and my privilege to appoint Barbara Lagoa to the Florida Supreme Court with full confidence she will serve our state with the utmost integrity.”
Justice Lagoa, a Cuban-American from Hialeah, is the first Hispanic woman to serve on the Florida Supreme Court. DeSantis announced the appointment in front of Miami’s Freedom Tower, which has come to be a symbol of freedom for Cuban immigrants arriving in South Florida.
Lagoa was appointed to the Third District Court of Appeals by Governor Jeb Bush in 2006. She was the first Cuban American woman to serve on the Third District Court of Appeals.
Her appointment to the Supreme Court won the praises of Republican legislative leaders who have been frustrated ovr the years with decisions handed down by the court that the Legislature saw as judicial activism on the part of the state court.
“I appreciated the Governor’s comments during his inauguration yesterday in which he stressed the proper role of the judiciary, and I am confident today’s appointment of Justice Lagoa is in line with the standards the Governor laid out during his remarks,” said Senate President Bill Galvano. “I share the Governor’s concern that in recent years the power of the judicial branch has extended beyond its limited constitutional responsibility, in many cases eroding the authority of the legislative branch. I believe democracy is at its best when each branch of government exercises both authority and restraint at the appropriate time.