The first black to serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court today praised Gov. Phil Murphy’s nomination of Fabiana Pierre-Louis to fill his old seat.
“I met Fabiana years ago, and I recall Justice Wallace introducing us,” said retired Associate Justice James H. Coleman, Jr. “Sounds odd to say now, but I followed her career since then and knew she was someone special.”
Coleman became the first of just two black men to serve on the state Supreme Court when Gov. Christine Todd Whitman nominated him in 1994. His successor, John E. Wallace, Jr., became the second black justice when Gov. James E. McGreevey named him as Coleman’s replacement nine years later.
The state’s highest court has been without a black justice since 2010, when Gov. Chris Christie declined to renominate Wallace.
Coleman was one of eight former justices who publicly criticized Christie for ousting the only black on the Supreme Court.
“I know from my service that justice is better served when diverse intellects are debating the critical issues that come before the Court,” Coleman said. “I am happy to see us returning to a more diverse, more representative Supreme Court, especially during these troubled times.”
If confirmed, Pierre-Louis would become the first black woman to serve as a justice in New Jersey. A former federal prosecutor, she began her career as a law clerk to Wallace.