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U.S. President Donald Trump announced Saturday he would be nominating a woman to replace the late Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who passed away Friday at 87.
Trump's top two picks for the Supreme Court vacancy include supposed frontrunner Amy Coney Barrett, a judge for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Barbara Lagoa, a Cuban-American judge born in Hialeah, Florida, currently serving as a judge for the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals covering Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.
Lagoa, whose parents fled Cuba in 1966, launched her career twenty years ago by serving on the pro-bono legal team representing the Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy kidnapped to Miami whose return to Cuba was a victorious rallying cry throughout the island for justice up against powerful Cuban-American exile interests.
After graduating from Florida International University and Columbia Law School, Lagoa was selected by former Florida governor Jeb Bush to serve on a state appeals court, after which she served as a chief judge for Florida's Third District Court of Appeals, only to then be selected by Governor Ron DeSantis as Florida Supreme Court justice before being confirmed by the Senate in December, with an 80-15 vote, to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Many legal analysts note her nomination to the Supreme Court would strategically serve Trump's re-election bid, especially in the largest swing-state of Florida, by catering to powerful Cuban-American exile interests who have helped launch her career. A "reliably pro-life" conservationist and staunchly conservative juror, Lagoa has opposed local minimum wage increases in Florida, limited recourse for homeowners facing foreclosure, and upheld the law requiring ex-felons to pay public debts before being allowed to vote.
Barbara Lagoa, Cuban American judge, rises on Trump’s Supreme Court list as allies emphasize Florida campaign edge... https://t.co/hQw4mrKGnG
Trump's strategists also hope that by picking a Latina Supreme Court justice, any Democratic efforts to delay the vote until after the November 3rd presidential elections or denounce her pro-business positions can be framed as racist—part of their goal to win Florida's diverse Latino voters away from Biden and the Democrats, and towards a victory for Trump in Florida. His recent announcement on Friday to release $9.6 billion in federal relief aid to Puerto Rico can be understood in the same vein, an attempt to win over this growing community of voting U.S. citizens displaced throughout Florida after Hurricane Maria.
Lagoa's husband, Paul Huck Jr., an attorney with Jones Day, has represented the Trump campaign. Lagoa was a top candidate for Florida's Lieutenant Governor position under Ron DeSantis, which was ultimately given to another Cuban-American, Jeanette Nuñez.
While even prominent Republican senators have urged to let the winner of the presidential election fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, most predict the vote will be expedited to October, with Trump announcing his nominee "some time Friday or Saturday" and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell vowing to confirm whoever Trump nominates.