Earlier this month, President Donald Trump floated two Florida justices as potential additions to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In the wake of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg‘s death Friday’s, those names have a renewed resonance, with Trump ready to move forward, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowing that Trump’s nominee will get a vote despite the imminent election.
Both Barbara Lagoa and Carlos Muñiz, respectively a former and a current member of the Florida Supreme Court appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, were among a list of 20 names the President introduced to media at the White House earlier this month.
The President envisions as many as four Supreme Court openings being available in the next term, and it’s a sign of the national reputation of both that they were shortlisted, along with Sens. Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz, as well as other jurists from around the nation.
While plans were still being formalized, Trump was expected to announce a choice sooner rather than later and may meet with members of his short list in the coming days, according to a White House official not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.
It’s emblematic of DeSantis’s strong position with the President that two of his appointees made this list of public names.
Confirmed in 2019 to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals by an 80-15 margin, Gov. Jeb Bush first appointed Miami-born Lagoa to the bench in 2006. She previously served as Chief Judge of the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami, a capacity in which she heard more than 11,000 cases.
DeSantis appointed Muñiz — a top aide to Bush and former Attorney General Pam Bondi — to the court even before picking Lagoa.
Muñiz served as general counsel to the U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Donald Trump, and was one of the two non-judge finalists nominated by the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) out of 59 applicants.
Muñiz was Bush’s deputy general counsel from 2001 to 2003. More recently, Muñiz was Bondi’s deputy attorney general and chief of staff from 2011 to 2014.
Republican leaders lauded the President’s prescience for his Sunshine State double dip.
Among them, Senate President Bill Galvano, who said Trump made a great choice.
Ginsburg’s reported dying wish was that the opening not be filled until after the election.
However, it is the President’s call to start the process. And that process could end with the elevation of a Florida jurist to the highest court in the land.
A confirmation vote in the Senate is not guaranteed, even with a Republican majority.
Typically it takes several months to vet and hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee, and time is short ahead of the election. Key senators may be reluctant to cast votes so close to the election. With a slim GOP majority, 53 seats in the 100-member chamber, Trump’s choice could afford to lose only a few.