New Jersey Sends a Black Woman to the State Supreme Court for First Time In Its History

Illustration for article titled New Jersey Sends a Black Woman to the State Supreme Court for First Time In Its History
Screenshot: ABC7

Oh, how I love seeing Black people—especially Black women—in positions of power.

For the first time in the state’s history, New Jersey is sending a Black woman to serve as a state Supreme Court justice after the state Senate unanimously confirmed her nomination Thursday.


USA Today reports that Fabiana Pierre-Louis will not only be the first Black woman to sit on the state’s highest court, but the 39-year-old will also be the youngest justice in the state’s history.

From USA Today:

Pierre-Louis will likely take her position on the bench in time to hear the Supreme Court’s opening cases in its next term starting in early September. The justice whom she will replace, Walter Timpone, reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 in November but has agreed to leave early, said Sen. Nicholas Scutari, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.

Pierre-Louis was confirmed by a vote of 39-0, though the lone absent senator, Nia Gill, relayed her support for the new associate justice. Many of the lawmakers noted the history being made ahead of the vote in the Senate chamber — which preceded a celebration of the centennial of women’s right to vote — but they also went to lengths to cast her race and gender as footnotes.

“Today is a historic day, so there’s no way to mince words about that. But what makes it even more special is she is uniquely well-qualified for this opportunity,” Sen. Troy Singleton (D-Burlington) said. “Not because of the color of her skin but because, as Martin Luther King said, the content of her character, and her great accuracy.”

Pierre-Louis was born in New York City to Haitian immigrants and raised in Brooklyn and Irvington. She graduated from Rutgers University and earned her law degree at Rutgers University Law School before spending nine years as a prosecutor in the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. There, she was also the first Black woman (and woman of color, period) to be put in charge of its Camden office, according to USA Today.

“The thought of actually sitting on the court one day was not something that came across my mind as a law clerk,” Pierre-Louis told ABC7. “I think my end game as a law student was to become an attorney and hopefully make an impact on the legal profession, in some way.”


New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who nominated Pierre-Louis for a justice seat back in June, released the following statement to ABC7:

“Fabiana is an exceptionally talented attorney, and will now have the historic distinction of becoming the first Black woman to be seated on our 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. I also thank Senate President Sweeney and Chairman Scutari for their support and conducting a thorough, fair, and open confirmation process.”

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons



excellent news. hopefully she will have a long tenure.