New Jersey Sends First Youngest Black Woman To State Supreme Court

Nikki Attkisson | Last Updated : September 4, 2020


Everything is set for the first Black woman on in New Jersey Supreme Court, Fabiana Pierre-Louis when the Senate unanimously confirms her nomination Thursday. Fabiana Pierre, the 39-year old hailed as a sharp lawyer, has a diverse background in private and public practice now, sitting on the state’s highest court as the youngest justice.

New Jersey sends first youngest Black woman to state Supreme Court

By next term starting, that is early September, Pierre-Louis will take her position on the bench for hearing the Supreme Court’s opening cases. She is replacing the justice Walter Timpone who has reached the mandatory retirement age of 70 by November. But, Walter Timpone has agreed to leave a little early, and it is revealed by the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Nicholas Scutari.

The replacement by Pierre-Louis is confirmed by a vote of 39-0. There was an absent senator, Nia Gill, but she relayed her support to the newly appointed associated justice. Several lawmakers quoted for history being made ahead for the vote in Senate Chamber. Later the voting has also preceded a celebration. “The centennial of women’s right to vote” they all went to lengths while casting her race as well as gender as footnotes.

Sen said, “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.” Troy Singleton, D-Burlington added, “Not because of the color of her skin but because, as Martin Luther King said, the content of her character, and her great accuracy.”  Sen. Gerald Cardinale, R-Bergen, quoted that, “As a nominee of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, Pierre-Louis is unlikely to vote in agreement with him on many cases. But he is confident she is going “to make those decisions honestly and not because of an allegiance to political philosophy.”

Cardinale asked while questioning of Pierre-Luis in her confirmation hearing, whether she was communist? Will she try to find flaws present in judicial candidates and the nominee? “I couldn’t find any.”  Pierre-Louis attended the vote along with her two sons and husband, declined to comment. Pierre-Louis is born in New York City. Parents were Haitian immigrants, and she rose in Irvington and Brooklyn. She graduated from Rutgers University. Later she earned her law degree at Rutgers University Law School. Soon after law school, she worked as associate Justice John Wallace. John, the last African – American to serve on the court, and now she is filling John’s seat.

Pierre-Louis worked in the United States Attorney’s Office for nine years, working as a prosecutor for the District of New Jersey. Here also she was the first Black woman to become an attorney in charge at the Camden office. During the role, she mainly focused on narcotics and fraud, child exploitation, and public corruption. She was also responsible for criminal matter supervision handled by that office.Before this, Pierre-Louis worked as the first woman of color and held the same position in the U.S. Attorney’s Trenton office. She also performed the Organized Crime and Gang Unit and office in the General Crimes Unit in Newark Office.

Before her nominations, Pierre-Louis was in the Cherry Hill firm Montgomery McCracken as a partner both in its government investigations and white-collar group. In the same role, Pierre-Louis focused on complex commercial litigation. Her role was also responsible for focusing on government investigations and white-collar crime. Because of all these and with that resume, Sen said, “knows both sides of the law.” Apart from these, many predicted that Pierre-Louis would become the chief justice one day. Some of them on the list were D-Essex, D-Bergen. Sen. Richard Codey, and Loretta Weinberg. Now, with her experience, she is nominated and becomes the chief justice.

Pierre-Louis is young, and at this age, she could prove that she has a substantial role majorly in decisions on many issues. Some of the topics, such as housing, education, and policing she will have a significant role for the next three decades. She will shift the gender makeup for sure of the court from two women and five men to three women and four men. Murphy also said while stating that he is ‘incredibly proud Pierre-Louis’s confirmation. Murphy also added that he is “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.” Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester also added, “Thursday’s vote should not be a one-off celebration for diversity on the court.”

“There should never be a reason why there’s one African American, one Latino, one Asian. We’re a diverse state, the most diverse in the nation,” “This young woman is one of the most impressive people I’ve ever met in my life.”  After confirmation, it is revealed that Fabiana Pierre, the 39-year old who hailed as a sharp lawyer, is sent to state Supreme Court to serve as Chief Justice, and she is the first and youngest Black woman in the same role. By September, she will start doing her part in the state’s highest court as the youngest justice. Early September, by the starting of next term, Pierre-Louis is going to take her position as youngest justice. By the starting of the next term, she will start hearing opening cases in the Supreme Court. Pierre-Louis will replace Walter Timpone. Walter is going to reach mandatory retirement age by November, but he is already agreed to leave early.

Sen. Gerald Cardinale quoted. “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.” Apart from Sen, many more added their opinion towards a significant move when Pierre-Louis’s role confirmed. Pierre-Louis will be serving her role starting from next term as the youngest and first woman of color to serve as Chief Justice.




Nikki Attkisson

With over 15 years as a practicing journalist, Nikki Attkisson found herself at Powdersville Post now after working at several other publications. She is an award-winning journalist with an entrepreneurial spirit and worked as a journalist covering technology, innovation, environmental issues, politics, health etc. Nikki Attkisson has also worked on product development, content strategy, and editorial management for numerous media companies. She began her career at local news stations and worked as a reporter in national newspapers.

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