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Newsmakers react to Barbara Lagoa’s Florida Supreme Court appointment

With Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday appointing appellate judge Barbara Lagoa to fill a vacancy on the state’s Supreme Court, leaders in law, politics and business reacted:

— Attorney General Ashley Moody: “As the first Cuban-American woman to serve on the 3rd District Court of Appeals and the author of more than 300 majority opinions, her elevation is well deserved.

“As a former judge and prosecutor, I know the importance of having well qualified justices who are committed to the rule of law on Florida’s high court. Like Gov. DeSantis, I believe judges should enforce the law as written and intended by our elected lawmakers.

“… Gov. DeSantis has fulfilled one of his most important campaign promises, and he should be applauded for doing so, quickly and purposefully. My office looks forward to appearing in front of the full Florida Supreme Court, including newly selected Justice Lagoa.”

— Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez: “I am excited that the Governor has appointed such an extraordinarily well qualified candidate to the Florida Supreme Court. Justice Barbara Lagoa embodies the work ethic and values of the South Florida community. She will be an outstanding jurist who will uphold our constitution and the rule of law.”

— Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican: “I appreciated the Governor’s comments during his inauguration yesterday in which he stressed the proper role of the judiciary, and I am confident today’s appointment of Justice Lagoa is in line with the standards the Governor laid out during his remarks.

“I share the Governor’s concern that in recent years the power of the judicial branch has extended beyond its limited constitutional responsibility, in many cases eroding the authority of the legislative branch. I believe democracy is at its best when each branch of government exercises both authority and restraint at the appropriate time.

“That concept was certainly at the heart of the many of the comments we heard from the Governor yesterday and echoed again this morning with the appointment of Justice Lagoa. I offer my congratulations to Justice Lagoa and wish her well as she begins this exciting new role serving our state on the Florida Supreme Court. I also congratulate Governor DeSantis on his first Supreme Court appointment.”

— House Speaker Jose Oliva, a Miami Lakes Republican: “Justice Barbara Lagoa is eminently qualified to serve the state of Florida on the Supreme Court. Whether it was graduating from Columbia Law School, serving as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, or as a judge on the 3rd District Court of Appeal, (her) commitment to this country and our Constitution should serve as an example for all Floridians.

“Today, one of Hialeah’s own sits on the Florida Supreme Court. And freedom is more secure because of it.”

Maria D. Garcia, President-Elect of the Cuban American Bar Association (CABA): “For the past 12 years, Judge Lagoa has served our community and judiciary as the first Cuban-American woman on the 3rd District Court of Appeal. CABA is very proud of all her accomplishments and her new role in the Florida Supreme Court.

“… As a fellow daughter of Cuban exiles, I am excited that Governor DeSantis made such a wise choice for the Florida Supreme Court. Judge Lagoa has always set a bright example for the legal community and has an impeccable record as a jurist.”

— Florida Family Policy Council President John Stemberger: DeSantis “has made a simply outstanding choice … 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.”

William Large, president of the Florida Justice Reform Institute, called Lagoa’s appointment “the first step towards fulfilling his promise to appoint judges who will interpret the law and not legislate from the bench.”

His organization, which advocates for tort reform, 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.”

— Tallahassee lawyer Daniel Nordby, who was general counsel to former Gov. Rick Scott, added it was “a home run for Gov. DeSantis. She’s a brilliant and principled judge with a proven track record on the appellate bench. Promise kept.”

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