Right now that appears to be the choice--one of the two.
Realistically, while one hopes that principle plays a dominant role in the selection, electoral considerations are bound to play a part. Lagoa, of course, would appeal to many Floridians, and Florida is a supremely important state for Trump.
On the other hand, while Lagoa comes well recommended, her resume is unquestionably on the thin side for a SCOTUS nominee. Nobody really knows that much about her. Barrett has an excellent resume and appears to be a clear favorite among conservatives. She also, by the sheer Middle American normality of her persona, might well appeal to a broad swath of Americans--especially women, and especially in the upper Midwest.
My tendency is to go with Barrett for reasons that don't denigrate Lagoa. It's not Lagoa's fault that she's not more of a known quantity--it takes time on the federal bench to establish the type of credentials that recommend a person for the SCOTUS, and Lagoa simply has not had the bench time or the time in an academic setting to establish a judicial profile to that extent.
I like that Barrett, while having for certain periods of her career been a member of the Federalist Society, is not closely associated with the Libertarian wing of the GOP or the legal establishment. I like her track record on important issues for conservatives: Title IX, Immigation, 2nd Amendment, and 4th Amendment.
John Fund today balances the two: The Two Women at the Top of the Supreme Court List. His conclusion stresses narrow electoral concerns--cementing Florida in the Trump column: "Either Amy Coney Barrett or Barbara Lagoa would be a strong pick. Timing may favor the latter."
On the other hand, Willis Krumholz at The Federalist pitches strong for Judge Amy:
Not only is this the right decision on principle, since judicial nominations are the duty of the president, but it is also the right political move.
He stresses that what I've called the sheer normality of Barrett's persona has very real political benefits, to go with her strong legal credentials: That normality will surely draw out an extreme response from the Dems and their base. Those attacks on Barrett's normality will be self defeating for most of the country, as we saw in the Kavanaugh hearings.
Interestingly, Shipwreckedcrew makes the same point--but in even stronger terms. Initially--and daftly, IMO--he had suggested a woman from the WH Counsel's office, Kate Todd, who appears to be a doctrinaire libertarian without, as one commenter said, a single culturally conservative bone in her body. However, SWC has come around to Judge Amy. A number of his followers suggested that the Dems may be afraid to strongly challenge the Cuban-American Lagoa, whereas they might strongly attack Barrett.
For SWC--and I believe he's right--that's a feature of a Barrett nomination, not a bug:
Amy Coney Barrett over Barbara Lagoa.
Dems might not fight Lagoa, and the electoral benefit of a Kavanaugh 2.0 will be squandered.
They won't be able to resist attacking Barrett.
And we know almost nothing about Lagoa. She spent a decade on a Florida State Appeals court, followed by 15 minutes on the Florida Supreme Court, and less than a year on the 11th Circuit.
I want the opposition. If Mitch has 50 votes, let it be Kavanaugh 2.0 in the Senate. Four Dem Senators got beat in 2018. The House losses would have likely been worse. The smart play for the Dems is to let the nomination go ... and instead make the fight about who gets to choose the nominees to replace Breyer, Thomas, and Alito. Trump could get all 3 of those in a second term. SIX OVERALL.
UPDATE 1: Here's the other argument, advanced by Rush Limbaugh and Don Surber. IMO, this approach would play into the Dems' hands:
ITEM 6: Rush Limbaugh said, "I want the Judiciary Committee hearing [to be] skipped.
"We don't need to open that up for whatever length of time, so that whoever this nominee is can be Kavanaugh'd, or Borked, or Thomas'd. Because that's what it's going to be, especially when it's not even required."
I agree. Tell Democrats to pound salt because they acted so incivil before.
I understand that any hearings may well be unpleasant, but this thinking is politically foolish. The Dems have their stealth candidate in Biden. That's an insult to the American people and an example that GOPers would be ill advised to follow. To do so would be to throw away two golden opportunities just weeks before a national election:
1. The GOP would miss the opportunity to showcase their best face, put their best foot forward, and present their judicial vision for the American future--MAGA from a legal perspective.
2. Equally importantly, they would miss the opportunity to showcase Dem extremism--the raw hatred for all that is good and normal in America. And GOP senators would have the opportunity to show that they're on the side of normality.
In American politics opportunities such as this one are few and far between. IMO, the Senate GOP should seize this opportunity with both hands. And if the Dems back off from a Kavanaugh 2.0, that will simply be a ratification on their part of the reasonability of MAGA.
ADDENDUM: This situation is entirely different in terms of political theater than Barr telling Nadler to pound sand.
UPDATE 2: SWC has his article explaining his position: Pres. Trump and the GOP Should Want This Fight Over the Supreme Court — the Nominee Should Set off a Partisan Brawl. Three key paragraphs:
I give the Democrats in the Senate — especially the morons on the Judiciary Committee — almost no credit for being able to game out the politics of their options. I expect them to go after the nominee in every dishonest, untruthful, and duplicitous way they can, just like they did with Brett Kavanaugh. But I think their chances of stumbling upon a smarter approach go up if the nominee is Judge Lagoa. I think the likelihood that the Democrats commit political seppuku increases significantly if the nominee is Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
I’m not sure Judge Barrett is the best selection if your only criteria is who is the best conservative that could be nominated. But as a matter of electoral politics, I see what she represents as a huge bonus for President Trump on November 3 in the places this election will be won. She’s the mother of five biological children, and she and her husband have adopted two other children from Haiti. As such, she is the antithesis of college-educated single and childless females at the heart of the Democrat coalition who overwhelmingly oppose Pres. Trump. So what? He’s not winning their votes no matter what he does.
But at the same time, I believe Judge Barrett reflects in many ways the “highest best” version of how millions of married wives and mothers see themselves and their role in society. These suburban moms have leaked away from Pres. Trump over the past four years. Watching the Democrats in the Committee denigrate Judge Barrett’s accomplishments and her beliefs will work to the benefit of the GOP on election day.