Judge Barbara Lagoa: A Pro-Life Christian Who Values “The Dignity of Each Human Being”

National   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Sep 22, 2020   |   12:42PM   |   Washington, DC

Federal Judge Barbara Lagoa, one of President Donald Trump’s top candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court, is a faithful Catholic who once encouraged a group of pro-life lawyers to uphold “the dignity of each human being.”

Lagoa is a former Florida Supreme Court justice who currently serves on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Along with Amy Coney Barrett and several others, she is considered to be one of Trump’s top choices to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

The Catholic News Agency reports pro-life and conservative leaders have praised Lagoa as a strong, compassionate conservative who is dedicated to faith and family.

She is “very pro-life, reliably pro-life,” said U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reports the Florida Family Policy Council, a pro-life organization, also praised her when she was appointed to the Florida Supreme Court.

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“She is smart, thoughtful, and has a conservative judicial philosophy that appreciates the limited role of the court,” said John Stemberger, president of the pro-life organization, previously. “She is also deeply committed to her faith, her family and her community. In the world of judicial appointments, Barbara Lagoa is a home run.”

Lagoa also has been vocal about her faith and its impact on her legal work. In 2019, she spoke to the Thomas More Society, a pro-life Catholic legal group, about how important it is for attorneys to defend “the dignity of each human being” even when it is difficult.

Here’s more from the Catholic News Agency:

“I suggest that in order to be a good Catholic advocate, one should start with St. Thomas More,” Lagoa told the attorneys. More, the patron saint of attorneys, is hailed for his commitment to his conscience and to Catholic doctrine, which lead eventually to martyrdom.

“It is more than going to Mass every Sunday, and to me at least, it means having a personal relationship with God that in turn informs how we treat others,” she said of her Catholic faith.

Following More’s humility in legal practice “starts with reminding ourselves, even when it is hardest, of the dignity of each human being — even the most difficult opposing counsel — and it also starts with reminding ourselves that none of us are perfect and that we ourselves can contribute to or exacerbate a difficult situation,” she said.

According to the Sun Sentinel, Lagoa has a reputation as a judicial originalist, meaning she bases her decisions on the original intent of the law.

So far, she has not ruled on any significant abortion cases, but she did mention Roe v. Wade during her U.S. Senate confirmation process to the 11th Circuit, the newspaper reports. Responding to questions from U.S. Senators, she said she would honor the precedent of the abortion case.

“For lower court judges, all Supreme Court precedent, including Roe v. Wade … is settled law,” she wrote. “If confirmed, I would faithfully apply this precedent and all other precedents of the Supreme Court.”

However, her answer does not necessarily mean that she would uphold Roe v. Wade if appointed to the Supreme Court. Lower court judges are bound to follow Supreme Court precedents, and her comments were made in that context.

Lagoa is a wife and mother of three children. She also is the daughter of Cuban immigrants.

Trump plans to announce his choice for the seat at the end of the week. On Monday, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Republicans have the votes to confirm Trump’s nominee before the November presidential election.