While the nation tuned in to watch the blockbuster testimony delivered by U.S. Ambassador to the EU Gordon Sondland in the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Republicans in the Senate flipped another one the nation federal appellate courts into a majority-conservative bench by confirming another Trump-nominated federal judge to a lifetime appointment.
Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Lagoa was confirmed Wednesday to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals by a vote of 80-15. Lagoa, the fifth Trump nominee to be confirmed to the Atlanta-based court, replaced Bill Clinton appointee Justice Stanley Marcus, who served since 1997. The 12-judge court, which was evenly split between Democratic and Republican appointees, became the second circuit court to undergo an ideological “flip” this month and the third overall. Last week the Senate flipped the New York-based Second Circuit with the confirmation of Steven Menashi.
For context, when President Barack Obama left the White House in January of 2017, four of the nation’s circuit courts had a majority of Republican-appointed judges. After Lagoa’s confirmation, that number has risen to seven. Trump has also appointed two Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, effectively shifting the ideological balance of the nation’s highest court as well.
A former federal prosecutor and the child of Cuban immigrants, Lagoa was appointed to the Third District Court of Appeal by Governor Jeb Bush in 2006 and served on the Supreme Court of Florida since January of this year. She is a member of the Federalist Society and during her confirmation hearing described herself as an “originalist.”
Shifting the ideological balance of the judiciary was a major factor for Republican voters in 2016, with 70-percent saying it was a “very important” issue.
“This success – along with the record number of federal appellate judges President Trump has appointed to date – is a testament to the tangible impact the president has had in reshaping the federal judiciary with constitutionalist judges who are committed to the rule of law,” Carrie Severino, the chief counsel and policy director at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network tweeted following her confirmation.
Christopher Kang, an attorney for the left-leaning legal group Demand Justice, said that despite the ongoing impeachment hearings, Trump’s “legacy” will be felt in the courts for decades.
“Regardless of what happens (with impeachment), President Trump’s legacy will be with us for decades. That will be something everyone needs to be paying attention to,” Kang said in an interview with Reuters.
[image via Jeff J Mitchell – Pool /Getty Images]