Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has appointed Florida Third District Court of Appeals Judge Barbara Lagoa to the state's Supreme Court.
DeSantis' selection of Lagoa, the daughter of Cuban émigrés, was the first of three Supreme Court appointments the new governor will make, following the mandatory retirement of three justices who comprised what had been the court's more liberal-leaning bloc. Most recently, she was the chief justice-elect for the Third DCA. It also will keep DeSantis' pledge to purge the Supreme Court of "activist" jurists.
She received her Juris Doctor from Columbia University in 1992, serving as an associate editor of the Columbia Law Review.
Barbara Lagoa, for the past 12 years a judge on the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami, was introduced by DeSantis at an event at Miami's Freedom Tower.
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DeSantis announced the new justice at Miami's Freedom Tower, a location that resonates with political significance. " The people of Florida deserve nothing less", said DeSantis. "And so her backdrop understanding that I think has really made her appreciate the importance of the rule of law". "And it is the role of judges to interpret our Constitution and statutes as they are written". "In our great country and our great state, we are governed by the rule of law, the consistent and equal application of the law to all litigations regardless of a judge's personal preferences", she said. "Unlike the country my parents fled, we are a nation of laws". But even so, DeSantis still managed to exceed critics' expectations by indicating that a state where former Gov. Rick Scott banned environmental regulators from using the phrase "climate change" is now willing to work to at least combat the symptoms of an existential problem.
Florida Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson from Jacksonville said she's concerned with the lack of details in DeSantis' new directive.
During his inaugural speech Tuesday, DeSantis blasted the court for expanding its powers "beyond constitutional bounds" and substituting "legislative will for dispassionate legal judgment".
Florida Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, said this: "I appreciated the governor's comments during his inauguration yesterday in which he stressed the proper role of the judiciary".
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"The Florida Justice Reform Institute, on behalf of the business community, has long called for judges who are textualists - who will say what the law is, and not what they think it should be - and who show deference to the Legislature as the rightful policymaking branch of government".
Over half of the 11 nominees to the Florida Supreme Court hail from South Florida. "It flows from their responsibility to protect me". I believe democracy is at its best when each branch of government exercises both authority and restraint at the appropriate time.
"Judge Lagoa's credentials are impeccable", DeSantis said in his first official act as governor. Her appointment, replacing retiring Justice Fred Lewis, is effective immediately. "I am working with the federal government". "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".
This article has been updated to reflect that Lagoa is the state's first female Cuban-American justice.
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DeSantis and Lagoa were joined by Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, a Cuban-American who grew up in Miami and attended Florida International University, DeSantis' wife, Casey DeSantis, and Lagoa's family.