Asked at a press briefing today whether he’d commit to nominating the state’s first-ever Latina Supreme Court justice, Gov. Phil Murphy implied that he may, though he stopped well short of committing to any nomination in particular.
“Without making specific news on a particular type of candidate, whether it’s ethnicity or gender or race or otherwise, we are the most diverse state in the nation,” he said. “And we owe our residents the same level of diversity where folks can say, ‘Listen, I see myself when I walk into that room or that chamber.’”
Soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz (D-Newark) who was herself the first Latina elected to the State Senate and will be the highest-ranking Latina in state history come January, said on the New Jersey Globe Power Hour that she’ll strongly advocate for a Latina on the top court.
“[Murphy]’s made some wonderful appointments, but now it is our time,” Ruiz said. “We have capable, confident, equipped individuals that can fill those spaces.”
If Murphy follows her guidance, it wouldn’t be the first time he’d make history with a court nomination. His nominee for the Supreme Court in 2020, Fabiana Pierre-Louis, became the first Black woman to ever serve on the court.
And he’ll have a fair number of opportunities. Three of the court’s seven justices will reach the mandatory retirement age of 70 during Murphy’s second term, two of them in 2022, and if Rachel Wainer Apter’s currently stalled nomination to the court ends up foundering, Murphy may have to find another nominee for that seat as well.