On April 13, Governor Jay Inslee announced his appointment of Pierce County Superior Court Judge G. Helen Whitener to the Washington State Supreme Court to fill the vacancy of retiring Justice Charles K. Wiggins. Earlier this year, Inslee made another historic appointment with the elevationof Raquel Montoya-Lewis, the state’s first Native American justice.
With Whitener’s appointment, the Washington State Supreme Court became the most diverse high court bench in the country. “I believe, as a marginalized individual—being a black gay female immigrant disabled judge—that my perspective is a little different” and that “having a judiciary that is reflective of the community that it serves is truly important in raising trust and confidence in the [judiciary],” said Whitener shortly before her appointment.
According to an analysis by the Brennan Center, there are still 23 states with all-white state supreme court benches, including 12 states where people of color make up at least 20 percent of the population.