Fabiana Pierre-Louis became the first Black woman to join the New Jersey Supreme Court on Thursday after the state Senate approved her nomination in a 39-0 vote.
Pierre-Louis, 39, is also just the third Black justice to sit on the Garden State’s highest court, and her confirmation comes as protests over racial justice continue across the country.
“I have heard and interviewed, whew, I don’t even know how many Supreme Court justices over the years,” said state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, “but I can tell you she’ll take a back seat to none of them.”
Pierre-Louis will replace Justice Walter Timpone, who reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in November.
The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Pierre-Louis graduated from Rutgers Camden Law School and went on to work both as a private defense attorney as well as a federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of New Jersey.
The Senate Judiciary Committee voted, 11-0, in favor of her nomination on Monday. During that hearing, Pierre-Louis said her background will be a new perspective on the bench.
“My experiences will certainly assist me in looking carefully and doing my due diligence with every case that comes before the court,” she said. She is from Mount Laurel, and will help bring geographical balance to the high court, which historically has had more justices from North Jersey.
Gov. Phil Murphy, who nominated Pierre-Louis for the seat in June, said he was proud of her nomination to the state’s highest court.
“I am honored to have put her name forward, and to see someone with a different set of life experiences and perspectives on our Supreme Court, a judicial body where New Jerseyans from all walks of life turn for justice,” Murphy said.
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