With the passing of United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the election could now turn on President Donald Trump‘s choice to replace her. And some of the most influential players in this newest national drama hail from Florida. Among them, Barbara Lagoa, herself only recently plucked from Florida’s Supreme Court and installed by Trump to the federal bench in the 11th Circuit.
Only days earlier, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, himself in the middle of a state Supreme Court battle, made it clear to the assembled media during the appointment of Jamie Grosshans to Florida’s highest court that he wasn’t taking the rejection of his original pick, Renatha Francis, lightly. DeSantis told reporters that, after Francis withdrew herself from consideration because she was a few weeks shy of having the required 10 years of membership in the state bar association, he had called the president and asked for a favor. He wanted Trump to make Francis a federal judge.
He may get his wish sooner than he thought. Lagoa, the first Hispanic woman to be named to Florida’s Supreme Court, now finds herself on the shortest of shortlists to replace Ginsburg. If Lagoa is chosen, that would open up a federal bench seat which Trump could fill with Francis.
As of late Sunday night, that scenario has started to look more plausible Lagoa, along with Amy Coney Barrett, are the top female contenders (so far, at least) to reach critical mass in the media. Both are trading at astronomical prices on the popular internet political prediction market, PredictIt, with prices fluctuating wildly over the last 24 hours (Lagoa is the steadily rising purple line, below):
Trump’s strong relationship with DeSantis, and the fact that his political path to victory likely runs through Florida in November, is clearly fueling some of the speculation surrounding Lagoa. She wouldn’t be a groundbreaking pick as the first Hispanic woman appointed to the United States Supreme Court, as that honor already went to Sonia Sotomayor. But Lagoa’s Miami roots and Cuban heritage might prove hard for Trump to resist, given the electoral importance of the state.
Lagoa’s legal star has risen rapidly. She was notably one of the pro bono attorneys working to help the family of Elián González, the Cuban boy who was ordered to be forcibly returned to Cuba by the Clinton Administration in 2000. A few years later, she worked the major crimes division as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. She was appointed by then-Governor Jeb Bush in 2006 as an appeals court judge, and then last year, was first appointed to the Florida Supreme Court by DeSantis, and then later to the federal bench by Trump.
If Trump does end up nominating Lagoa to the United States Supreme Court, that could bring Renatha Francis into play as a potential replacement for Lagoa on the 11th Circuit, effectively a 1-2 punch for Florida, DeSantis, and Trump. The moves could prove energizing to Republicans and Democrats alike, albeit for different reasons.