New Jersey’s longest-standing organization for black lawyers, judges and law students issued a full-throated backing of Fabiana Pierre-Louis’s nomination to the state’s Supreme Court Friday.
“Since 1975, the GSBA has continuously assisted African-Americans and other ethnic minorities in becoming an effective part of the legal system,” the Garden State Bar Association said in a statement. “The Association also seeks to advance the science of jurisprudence, improve the administration of justice, support initiatives designed to improve economic condition of all individuals, and eliminate discrimination and inequality based on racial, ethnic, or sexual considerations. Today’s nomination embodies those goals.”
Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday announced he was nominating Pierre-Louis, a former federal prosecutor who now serves as partner at Montgomery McCracken, to replace Associate Justice Walter Timpone after he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 70 on November 10.
She would, if confirmed, become the first black woman to serve on the high court and the first African American to sit on the bench since 2010, when Gov. Chris Christie declined to renominate Associate Justice John Wallace, for whom Pierre-Louis served as a law clerk, for a tenured term.
Reactions to Pierre-Louis’s nomination have been mostly glowing among the state’s Democratic lawmakers, though some high-ranking officials — including Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) and Senate Judiciary Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) — have chosen to keep their feelings closer to their chests.
“Pierre-Louis has been a pivotal example of success, progress, and leadership. Her accolades are extensive and her experience is remarkable,” the Garden State Bar Association said. “As a GSBA member, she is a past recipient of the Young Lawyers Award and a 2005 scholarship recipient. As a former United States Prosecutor, she protected our safety and security, while ensuring fair treatment for all.”
The Garden State Bar Association’s “unqualified support” for the nominee may smooth out some portions of the confirmation process.
For one, it’s likely that the group’s endorsement will aid Pierre-Louis in securing approval from the New Jersey Bar Association and the Prosecutorial Appointments Committee, which must back her before Murphy can make a formal nomination.
If those groups give the 39-year-old attorney the greenlight, she’ll need State Sens. Troy Singleton (D-Palmyra) and Dawn Addiego (D-Evesham), who represent Pierre-Louis’s home county of Burlington, to sign off on her nomination before it moves into committee.
Singleton has already approved the nominee.