Monday, September 21, 2020


We're all assuming that President Trump will pick Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court, but another possible appointee has emerged. Politico reports:
Leading Florida Republican politicians are launching an all-out effort to convince President Donald Trump to nominate federal Judge Barbara Lagoa to the U.S. Supreme Court — a move they say would boost his reelection chances in the must-win swing state.

The biggest names in the Florida GOP are working behind the scenes to advocate for Lagoa: U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott have sprung into action, along with Gov. Ron DeSantis, Rep. Matt Gaetz, Florida campaign director Susie Wiles and the president’s former impeachment defense lawyer, former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, according to interviews with a dozen Republicans familiar with the effort.

... it’s Lagoa’s background as a Florida Cuban-American that could have the most salience for Trump.

Lagoa is young enough (52) to serve for at least thirty years. She's Catholic, which means that she'll pass muster with Leonard Leo, the little-known, unelected, long-time Federalist Society operative who oversees the selection of all Republican-appointed federal judges -- in fact, The Washington Post reports,
Lagoa’s husband, Paul C. Huck Jr., is the “godfather of the Federalist Society in Miami,” said José Félix Díaz, a former state legislator and consultant with Ballard Partners, a powerful lobbying firm closely associated with Trump.
(I guess this former state legislator doesn't think the word "godfather" has unsavory connotations in this context. In Miami, maybe it doesn't.)

Lagoa is conservative in all the ways that make Mitch McConnell's heart skip a beat, according to the Post.

Particularly contentious could be her record on voting rights and executive power. Lagoa concurred this month in a federal appeals court ruling that is expected to keep many of the 85,000 felons who have registered to vote in Florida from casting ballots....

On Florida’s high court, and before that, on a state appeals court, she repeatedly sided with businesses, helping to turn back a higher minimum wage in Miami, limiting recourse for homeowners facing foreclosure, and reversing or rejecting cases of employees who sued Caterpillar and Uber.

And Florida Cubans will love this, as will longtime Fox viewers everywhere:
Especially central for her ... was her experience as a member of the pro bono legal team representing the Miami relatives of Elián González, the Cuban boy whose mother drowned while trying to escape with him to the United States and whose subsequent custody case became an international cause celebre.
But in the Post and Politico stories, I'm not seeing any mention of this case:
... she authored the opinion that reversed the conviction of Adonis Losada, a former Univision comic actor who was sentenced to 153 years in prison for collecting child porn. Lagoa ruled that a Miami-Dade judge erred in not allowing Losada to defend himself at trial.
Losada, who appeared regularly on the long-running Spanish-language variety show Sábado Gigante, sent child porn images to an undercover cop he met in an online chat room. The 153-year sentence was reduced to 10 years before Lagoa's ruling, but her ruling overturned the conviction altogether.

I'm not a lawyer. The ruling appears to be purely on due process grounds.

But can you imagine the uproar if a Democratic president nominated someone to the Supreme Court who had overturned a kiddie porn conviction? Even before the QAnon era, there would have been wall-to-wall coverage on Fox News, and there would have been pious, more-in-sorrow-than-anger denunciations of the ruling by one prominent Republican after another. Newt Gingrich would have been on every TV channel telling us this is what you get from the decadent, sex-crazed, morality-destroying Democrats.

It would have worked. It would have forced the nominee to withdraw, even if the Senate had a comfortable Democratic majority.

But if Lagoa is the nominee, it probably won't matter at all. The case won't even be mentioned in most news stories. It's quite possible that no Democrat will mention it.

Democrats don't have a media infrastructure that automatically amplifies every new partisan attack, however specious. Republicans do. That's why this case would be fatal to a Democrat, and won't be if Lagoa is Trump's pick.

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