Just months after joining the Florida Supreme Court, Justice Barbara Lagoa and Justice Robert Luck have been picked by President Donald Trump to serve on a federal appeals court, Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office said Thursday evening.
Trump’s decision is broadly consequential for Florida and the 11th Circuit, which hears cases originating in Florida, Alabama and Georgia. The decision will yet again remake the Florida court, though not ideologically so: DeSantis accomplished that earlier this year, and is expected to keep the court solidly conservative with the two new appointees he’ll nominate soon. But Trump’s choices for the 11th circuit will do to that court what DeSantis did to the Florida Supreme Court earlier this year: it will flip the 11th Circuit’s majority from liberal to conservative.
It would take only one of the two judges to be confirmed to flip the court, giving it a majority of justices appointed by Republican presidents. At the end of the Obama administration in 2016, eight of the 12 judges on the court were appointed by Democrats. One seat was vacant. Trump also tilted the perennially liberal 9th Circuit, which hears cases from western states, right.
DeSantis praised the nominations of Lagoa and Luck for seats on the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a statement issued by his office. The governor appointed the pair to the Florida Supreme Court shortly after he took office in January. Lagoa and Luck are members of the staunchly conservative Federalist Society that also counts five U.S. Supreme Court justices as current or former members.
“President Trump has demonstrated great judgment in nominating Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit,” DeSantis said. “I appointed these two justices to the Florida Supreme Court for their demonstrated understanding of the Constitution and the appropriate role of the judiciary. We are proud of these two Floridians who have earned the respect of many for being great jurists and public servants. They will serve our nation well.”
The Florida Supreme Court received official word of the nominations Thursday afternoon, court spokesman Craig Waters said.
While Lagoa and Luck would have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, their moves to the Atlanta-based appeals court would lead to DeSantis making two more appointments to the Supreme Court. Along with Lagoa and Luck, DeSantis in January appointed Supreme Court Justice Carlos Muniz, effecting a conservative make-over of the court.
A news release Thursday evening from DeSantis’ office said Trump selected Lagoa and Luck to replace longtime appeals-court judges Gerald Tjoflat and Stanley Marcus, who are moving into what is known as “senior” status.
Lagoa and Luck both served on the state’s 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami-Dade County before they were picked by DeSantis to serve on the Supreme Court. Lagoa is the only woman on the Supreme Court and is also the state’s first Cuban-American female justice.
Then-Gov. Jeb Bush appointed Lagoa to the 3rd District Court of Appeal in 2006, and she had served as chief judge of the court before her appointment to the Supreme Court. Luck was appointed to the state appellate court in 2017 by then-Gov. Rick Scott, after serving as a Miami-Dade County circuit judge.
Along with DeSantis, other state leaders and Florida Bar officials issued statements late Thursday praising Trump’s decision to nominate Lagoa and Luck to the federal court.
“Justices Barbara Lagoa and Robert Luck have served Florida well as lawyers and jurists, and both are highly qualified to provide their knowledge and expertise to the entire country,” Florida Bar President John M. Stewart said in a prepared statement. “It is well-known throughout Florida that they have repeatedly demonstrated the ability to apply the law to reach fair and just outcomes. I am excited about their continued public service to our state and now possibly to our country.”
Tjoflat was appointed to the federal appeals court in 1975 by President Gerald Ford, while Marcus was appointed in 1997 by President Bill Clinton.
–News Service of Florida and FlaglerLive