During Trump’s rally in North Carolina on Saturday night, the president declared that his next Supreme Court nominee will be “a very talented, very brave woman.” Speaking over chants of “Fill that seat!” from the crowd, Trump spoke about his obligation to nominate someone without delay. According to multiple reports, Trump’s nomination could come as soon as next week.
Assuming he keeps his word and nominates a woman, the nominee will likely be either Amy Coney Barrett or Barbara Lagoa. Both women appear on Trump’s now famous list of potential Supreme Court nominees.
Here’s a brief look at each woman and the effects their nomination may have on a few of the most critical issues cropping up in the courts today.
Amy Coney Barrett
Judge Barrett serves as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, IL. Trump appointed her to that position in 2017. A devout Roman Catholic, she was previously a professor of constitutional law at her alma mater Notre Dame. Before that, she served as a clerk to the late Justice Antonin Scalia. According to the New York Times, during her confirmation hearing, Judge Barrett was questioned about her faith by Senate Democrats. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” said Senator Diane Fienstein, prompting accusations of religious bigotry from Senate Republicans, particularly Senator Orrin Hatch.
At the time, three democrats joined Republicans in voting to confirm Judge Barrett — Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and former Senator of Indiana, Joe Donnelly.
Judge Barrett is known widely for her pro-life stance, but according to an article in Notre Dame’s student newspaper, at a 2013 Notre Dame event entitled “Roe at 40: The Supreme Court, Abortion and the Culture War that Followed,” she characterized the landmark case as a settled decision.
“I think it is very unlikely at this point that the court is going to overturn Roe [v. Wade], or Roe [v.Wade] as curbed by [Planned Parenthood v.] Casey. The fundamental element, that the woman has a right to choose abortion, will probably stand,” she said. “The controversy right now is about funding. It’s a question of whether abortions will be publicly or privately funded.”
Since joining the 7th circuit though, Judge Barrett has either written or signed on to many opinions that limit women’s access to abortions. According to the IndyStar, Barrett “called for the re-hearing of a case that struck down former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence's 2016 abortion law, which prohibited abortions if the fetus was disabled.”
Barbara Lagoa is a Cuban American judge who currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta, GA. She was nominated by President Trump in 2019 and confirmed by the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. Prior to her appointment, Lagoa was the first Hispanic woman on the Supreme Court of Florida. She attended Columbia University for law school and served as an associate editor of the Columbia Law Review.
Lagoa is well known for being part of the legal team that represented the Miami relatives of Elián Gonzalez. Gonzalez was six years old when he was found floating in an inner tube off the coast of Florida in 1999. According to the New York Times, Lagoa and her colleagues argued that “Elian Gonzalez had been denied the due process granted to all other aliens who come to this country seeking asylum”
More recently, Judge Lagoa sided with a 6-to-4 majority on the 11th Circuit that decided a Florida law requiring former felons to pay court fees before they can vote is constitutional. Multiple outlets have described the decision as being harmful to voters’ rights initiatives.
When asked about Lagoa on Saturday night, Trump said, “She’s an extraordinary person. I’ve heard incredible things about her. I don’t know her. She’s Hispanic and highly respected.”
According to the Miami Herald, Lagoa is the daughter of exiled Cubans who fled soon after Fidel Castro came into power. Trump has been actively courting Cuban American voters throughout the 2020 presidential campaign season, and a Lagoa nomination could benefit him by giving him a boost in the key state of Florida.
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