In 2019, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Barbara Lagoa to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. Several of Lagoa’s decisions prior to her confirmation raised concerns that she would side with the wealthy and powerful at the expense of everyday Americans as a federal judge. For example, one of Lagoa’s first decisions on the state Supreme Court sided with businesses challenging Miami Beach’s decision to raise the minimum wage (notably, her colleague, Robert Luck, ruled differently). In another decision, she made it harder for homeowners to defend themselves against banks that were improperly trying to foreclose upon their homes. Since her confirmation to the Eleventh Circuit, Lagoa has continued to issue harmful opinions.
In Jones v. Florida, Barbara Lagoa joined the Eleventh Circuit majority to hold that despite the passage of a state referendum restoring the right to vote to disenfranchised former felons, the state legislature could prevent otherwise eligible Floridians from voting if they did not pay all courts fines and fees (even if the state is unable to even tell the Floridian how much they owe) – a “pay to vote” system. As Judge Adalberto Jordan explained in dissent, this decision denies the right to vote to individuals who have “paid their debt to society to the extent of their capacity” and disregards the will of the super-majority of Florida’s voters who elected to automatically restore the franchise to formerly incarcerated individuals. As a result of the decision, tens of thousands of Floridians will not be able to exercise their right to vote. Lagoa’s involvement in this ruling is especially egregious because she participated in a hearing on an advisory opinion on the matter, requested by Governor Ron DeSantis, while she was a judge on the Florida Supreme Court. Lagoa refused to recuse herself from the appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, despite “committing under oath during [her] Senate confirmation” to withdraw from cases in which she previously participated.
In Patel v. United States Attorney General, Lagoa held that the court of appeals had no jurisdiction to review a BIA decision to deny an immigrant’s petition for labor certification because he mistakenly checked the U.S. citizenship box on his driver’s license application form. As the dissent noted, this sweeping reinterpretation of the “longstanding presumption in favor of judicial review of administrative actions” grants immigration officials an extraordinary degree of unchecked authority.
The Alliance for Justice strongly opposes the consideration of Barbara Lagoa for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.