For the First Time, Trump Might Nominate a Florida Native for the Supreme Court
Federico Moreno (left) and Charles Canady
University of Miami/Florida Supreme Court
Since his stunning election victory two weeks ago, Donald Trump has been busy making a series of controversial appointments. First came alt-right media baron Steve Bannon as chief strategist and counselor and then Jeff Sessions, who was once denied a federal judgeship due to accusations that he made racially insensitive comments, as attorney general.
This week, the president-elect announced his secretary of education will be billionaire philanthropist Betsy DeVos, a school-choice proponent some educators fear could dismantle public education.
His most anticipated pick, though, is yet to come. On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly brought up the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. He went as far as to say that because of it, Republicans who didn't like him would have to vote for him anyway. "Have no choice, sorry, sorry, sorry," he said at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Trump in late September issued a "definitive" list of 21 potential nominees. His campaign said they were selected based on constitutional principles, with input from conservative policy groups including the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation. Two of the picks hail from Florida, which has never had a native on the high court.
The two potential nominees are state Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady and Federico Moreno, a judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
Trump has pledged to appoint a Scalia-like justice who opposes Roe v. Wade. Canady, a religious Republican who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1993 to 2001, has a clear record on the issue. He coined the term "partial-birth abortion" and in 1995 introduced a bill to ban the practice.
“The only difference between the partial-birth abortion and homicide is a mere three inches,” he claimed. "Most partial-birth abortions are performed on the healthy children of healthy mothers."
The Yale Law School graduate and Lakeland native was one of the managers of Bill Clinton's impeachment trial in 1998. After leaving the House, he served as general counsel for then-Gov. Jeb Bush. Canady was appointed to the state Supreme Court in 2008 by then-Gov. Charlie Crist.
Recently, the now-62-year-old was the lone dissenter on the court's decision that the death penalty can be handed down only by a unanimous jury.
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Moreno, who is Catholic, graduated from the University of Notre Dame and the University of Miami School of Law. He worked in the Public Defender's Office before Gov. Bob Graham appointed him in 1986 as a Miami-Dade County Court judge. President George H.W. Bush nominated him to his current position in 1990.
In his years on the bench, the now-64-year-old has ordered the government to pay nearly a million dollars to six innocent people tortured in a U.S.-led drug sting in Honduras and ruled that the United States erred in returning 15 Cuban refugees who were stranded on a bridge in the Keys.
The Venezuelan-born judge was one of the first Hispanics appointed to the federal bench in South Florida. In 2005, the Cuban American Bar Association urged then-President George W. Bush to appoint the first Hispanic justice and included Moreno's name on its list of suggestions.
"Judge Moreno would be the ideal replacement for Justice Scalia," said attorney David Oscar Markus, who wrote about the potential pick on his Southern District of Florida blog. "He loves to engage lawyers from the bench, is practical, and incredibly smart. He is almost never reversed by the appellate courts, as I have found out the hard way."