for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up
AMERS

Rulings by Supreme Court contender Lagoa show right-leaning views

(Reuters) - Barbara Lagoa, a frontrunner for the open Supreme Court seat that President Donald Trump is pushing to fill, has made her conservative views known in business cases and disputes over the limits of executive power.

FILE PHOTO: Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Lagoa, currently a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, poses in a photograph from 2019 obtained September 19, 2020. Florida Supreme Court/Handout via REUTERS.

While Lagoa has only been on the federal bench since 2019, earlier this month she took part in a major case limiting voting by ex-felons.

Here are some of Lagoa’s most notable rulings:

EX-FELONS’ RIGHT TO VOTE

This month, Lagoa joined the majority in a major ruling by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a law requiring people with past felony convictions to pay outstanding court fees, fines and restitution before regaining the right to vote.

While critics have compared the Republican-backed law to poll taxes imposed in the past to keep Black people from voting, the majority that said ex-felons had not shown a violation of their civil rights.

The 11th Circuit is one of the regional appeals courts that are one step below the Supreme Court. Trump appointed Lagoa to the Atlanta-based court last year.

PARKLAND MASSACRE FALLOUT

In January 2019, Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis elevated Lagoa from an intermediate state court to the Florida Supreme Court.

Four months later, Lagoa handed DeSantis a high-profile win when she wrote a decision upholding his authority to suspend the sheriff of Florida’s Broward County.

The sheriff, who had been criticized for his handling of a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, had accused DeSantis of “an executive power grab” that interfered with the public’s right to elect officials.

Lagoa said that the governor had acted within his authority under Florida’s constitution.

The ruling is consistent with the Trump administration’s view of judicial power. Its lawyers have argued in various court cases that the executive branch has broad powers and judges should show deference in reviewing its actions.

MINIMUM WAGE FIGHT

While on the Florida Supreme Court in 2019, Lagoa sided with business groups challenging a decision by the city of Miami Beach to raise its minimum wage.

The court said a 2003 state law that preempted all local minimum wage laws still prohibited higher local wages in Florida.

Miami Beach had tried to require private sector employers to gradually raise pay for minimum wage employees to $13.31 an hour. Florida’s minimum wage is $8.56.

FORECLOSURE FLIP

In January 2019, right before Lagoa joined the Florida Supreme Court, the court issued a decision that made it easier for homeowners to recover legal fees from banks that improperly tried to foreclose on their homes.

In a highly unusual turn of events, the court withdrew that decision three months later, after Lagoa and two other DeSantis-picked judges were installed. Lagoa joined colleagues in saying the court never had jurisdiction to hear the case in the first place.

Alliance of Justice, a liberal group, said the decision “raise[d] questions regarding Lagoa’s commitment to equal justice for consumers.”

Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Daniel Wallis

for-phone-onlyfor-tablet-portrait-upfor-tablet-landscape-upfor-desktop-upfor-wide-desktop-up