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Gov. DeSantis names Lagoa to Florida Supreme Court

By David Bishop -January 9, 2019

Judge Lagoa and family

In one of his first official acts, Governor Ron DeSantis has appointed Third District Court of Appeal Judge Barbara Lagoa to the Florida Supreme Court. Lagoa, the first Cuban-American woman appointed to the state’s highest court, is widely considered a conservative jurist. 

DeSantis made the announcement Wednesday morning at the historic Freedom Tower in Miami. 

“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.”

Lagoa was appointed to the Third DCA in 2006 by former Governor Jeb Bush. She’s a Miami native who received her undergraduate degree from Florida International University and her law degree from Columbia University. 

During his inaugural speech Tuesday, DeSantis made it clear he would only appoint judges who take a narrow view on their constitutional responsibilities. “I will only appoint judges who understand the proper role of the courts is to apply the law and Constitution as written, not to legislate from the bench. The Constitution, not the judiciary, is supreme.”

Based on that criteria, the Florida Supreme Court is expected to have a conservative majority for the first time in twenty years of Republican control of state government.

The selection of Lagoa won swift praise from Florida conservatives.

“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,” said William Large, president of the Florida Justice Reform Institute. “Justice Lagoa brings these exact qualities and an impressive record to the Court at a critical time. The Florida Justice Reform Institute applauds Governor DeSantis’ on his wise and thoughtful choice that will have a profoundly positive impact on Florida for a long time.” 

“Governor Ron DeSantis has made a simply outstanding choice in Barbara Lagoa for the Florida Supreme Court,” said John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council. “She is smart, thoughtful, and has a conservative judicial philosophy that appreciates the limited role of the court. She is also deeply committed to her faith, her family and her community. In the world of judicial appointments, Barbara Lagoa is a home run. Governor DeSantis should be highly commended for a very thorough vetting process and a commitment to appoint such highly principled Justices as Barbara Lagoa.” 

Lagoa is the first of three appointments DeSantis will make to the state Supreme Court because of vacancies created by a constitutional mandatory retirement age.  Governor DeSantis has not indicated when he would make the final two appointments.