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Florida Connection Improves Odds of One Court Contender

Newser — John Johnson

President Trump told Fox News on Monday that he expects to name his choice to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday or Saturday, reports the Hill.

Trump says he has five names on his short list, though he did not say who they were. One leading contender is thought to be 48-year-old federal judge Amy Coney Barrett.

Another name quickly moving up the ranks also is a federal judge: Barbara Lagoa of Florida, reports Fox News. Coverage:

  • Third name: Trump on Monday said one of his finalists is only 38 years old, and the Hill says it almost certainly federal judge Allison Jones Rushing, who sits on the federal US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.

“It could be any one of them—they’ll all be great,” Trump told Fox.

  • Lagoa's resumé: Lagoa is a 52-year-old Cuban American with extensive judicial experience, reports USA Today.

Trump put her on the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals last year—she was confirmed in the Senate by an unusually wide margin of 80-15—and she previously served on Florida's Supreme Court.

The newspaper describes her as a protegé of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Trump ally.

  • Bona fides: Lagoa, a Catholic mother of three, is seen as having strong conservative credentials, reports the Washington Post.

She belongs, for example, to the Federalist Society, an influential conservative legal group.

  • The politics: Politico notes, along with others, that picking Lagoa would likely help Trump in the politically crucial state of Florida.

“If the president picks Barbara Lagoa, they will be dancing salsa with joy in Hialeah well past November,” says Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, referring to Lagoa’s home town.

Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, along with DeSantis, also were pushing her name this weekend.

  • Big issue: Among conservatives, Barrett is seen as someone who might help dismantle Roe v.

Wade, but Lagoa's stance on the issue is "little known," per Politico. She referred to the Roe ruling as a "settled law" in her Senate confirmation process and is generally seen as a "blank slate" on the issue.

However, Gaetz has said she is "very pro-life, reliably pro-life."

  • Rushing critics: The Voice of America notes that Jones Rushing was confirmed to her judgeship in a party-line vote after Democrats, gay rights groups, and civil rights groups opposed her nomination.

Her critics note she interned with a conservative nonprofit that defended a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay wedding. She also has backed the Defense of Marriage Act, which says marriage should be between a man and woman, and she supports the idea that employers should be able to opt out of providing coverage for employees' contraceptives because of religious beliefs.

  • Baggage: Lagoa joined in the majority this month in a federal court ruling that is expected to keep thousands of felons in Florida from voting.

Democrats note that Black people are disproportionately imprisoned in the state, which could stir up racial politics in regard to Lagoa. But one person pushing for Lagoa's nomination tells Politico that could backfire.

“We hope Democrats attack a Latina as a racist,” says the unnamed Republican. “There’s a broad pool of Hispanic voters who will get turned off by that.” (Read more about Coney Barrett.)

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