Governor DeSantis Selects Barbara Lagoa for Supreme Court
In addition to leading Florida’s executive branch, Governor Ron DeSantis has an immediate opportunity to reshape the Florida Supreme Court. Three of Florida’s Supreme Court Justices– Barbara Pariente, Peggy Quince, and Fred Lewis, reached mandatory retirement coinciding with Governor DeSantis’ becoming Florida’s next Governor. Although sometimes it is difficult or even unfair to apply labels to judges’ philosophies, most observers in Florida would characterize the retiring justices as liberal. In contrast, Governor DeSantis has repeatedly indicated he will appoint Justices who follow the strict rule of law and have a philosophy of judicial restraint. (Note that Governor DeSantis is a graduate of Harvard Law School, so he certainly is familiar with the judicial system.)
Governor DeSantis moved quickly to appoint the first of three Justices he will name to the positions vacated by the retiring Justices. He named Barbara Lagoa to one of the open positions. Judge Lagoa’s philosophy matches Governor DeSantis’ view of the legal system. Judge Lagoa commented, “I am particularly mindful of the fact that under our constitutional system it is for the Legislature, not the courts, to make the law. It is the role of judges to apply, not to alter, the work of the people’s representatives.”
Judge Lagoa previously has been the Chief Judge of Florida’s Third District Court of Appeal (3rd DCA). Judge Lagoa becomes the first Hispanic woman appointed to the Florida Supreme Court. She was appointed to the 3rd DCA in 2006 by then-Governor Jeb Bush. Judge Lagoa graduated from Florida International University and Columbia Law School, where she was editor of the Law Review.