Murphy names former RBG clerk Rachel Wainer Apter to N.J. Supreme Court

Rachel Wainer Apter, currently head of the state’s civil rights division, would be the 41st justice of New Jersey’s highest court if confirmed.

Rachel Wainer Apter speaks from a podium at Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall

Rachel Wainer Apter speaks from a podium at Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall, Rutgers University-Newark on Monday, March 15, 2021. (Edwin J. Torres/ N.J. Governor’s Office)

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will nominate Rachel Wainer Apter to the state Supreme Court, replacing Associate Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, who plans to retire from the high court in August.

Wainer Apter, who was once a clerk for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has served as director of the Division of Civil Rights in the Office of Attorney General since Oct. 2018. Prior to that, she served as counsel to state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal as his top advisor on civil rights issues.

If confirmed, she would be the 41st justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court.

“In the words of Justice Ginsburg, ‘Fight for the things that you care about. But do it in a way that will lead others to join you.’ In every aspect throughout her career, Rachel has lived these words,” Murphy said Monday at Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall at Rutgers University-Newark.

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Murphy and Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver praised Wainer Apter for personally litigating to preserve the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and for helping draft the Attorney General’s Immigrant Trust Directive, which aims to help immigrants to report crimes without fear of deportation.

Wainer Apter is also credited with getting Facebook to take down an anti-Semitic page that targeted Orthodox Jews in Ocean County and for issuing enforcement guidance on the policing of Black hairstyles.

Prior to joining the Murphy administration, she was an attorney in private practice and for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Weiner Apter said Ginsburg shared the high court’s legacy of “recognizing the equal dignity of every human being and acknowledging how the law impacts real people each day.”

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“I hope to be able to live up to that promise,” she added.

LaVecchia was nominated to the court in 2000 by Gov. Christie Todd Whitman. Murphy praised her 21 years on the high bench and her four decades in public service.

“I suspect she is not done serving the people of New Jersey,” the governor said.

Wainer Apter is a resident of Englewood, Bergen County, and a native of Rockaway Township in Morris County. She graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and magna cum laude from Harvard Law School.

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