Gov. Phil Murphy plans to nominate a South Jersey lawyer and former federal prosecutor to the state Supreme Court who, if confirmed, would become the first black woman to sit on the high court.
The appointment of Fabiana Pierre-Louis would also shift the gender balance of the seven-member court, from five men and two women to four men and three women. If confirmed by the Senate, Pierre-Louis would replace Walter Timpone, who will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 in November.
Pierre-Louis, daughter of Haitian immigrants, is Murphy's first Supreme Court appointment. He has made it a priority to elevate minorities and woman in his administration, and has assembled the most diverse Cabinet in state history. And the courts, he said, must reflect the state's diversity.
Justice cannot be blind if those who sit on our highest and most powerful bench are not surrounded by colleagues who encompass the full range of the American experience, whether it be racially, or generationally, or both," Murphy said in an announcement on Friday at the Trenton War Memorial.
He added that his office's search for an associate justice was long and exhaustive, and that Pierre-Louis's selection was not prompted by the current national discussion about race and systemic bias.