It’s been an interesting past few days for Washington State. Not just content to pronounce the nation’s highest minimum wage increase, it has also decided to appoint a new justice to the Washington State Supreme Court who not only makes for its first openly lesbian justice, not only makes for its first Asian-American justice, not only makes for its first female Hispanic justice, but also makes for the first justice in the state to preside over a same-sex marriage.
Talk about a record breaker.
This historic justice, a weathered veteran of the King County Superior Court, is named Mary Yu, and her background is just as varied as her accomplishments. Born to immigrant parents from Mexico and from China, Judge Yu grew up to earn a graduate degree in theology from Mundelein of Loyola University in Chicago, a Municipal League Foundation “Public Official of the Year” award, the Norm Maleng Award of the Washington State Bar Association, and the 2011 Outstanding Judge of the Year Award, among others. After her fourteen years of service on the King County Superior Court and her public service career with the Archdiocese of Chicago, Gov. Inslee has said, “That combination of experience has allowed Judge Yu to see the real-life impacts our legal system has on a diverse population.”
In the same statement, Inslee has said, “That combination of experience has allowed Judge Yu to see the real-life impacts our legal system has on a diverse population,” Inslee said. He also said that the personal story of Judge Yu, daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico and from China, “adds a unique perspective that is important as our state’s demographics continue to shift.”
Her appointment by Gov. Jay Inslee means she will go on to replace Justice Jim Johnson, a conservative who once ruled against same-sex marriage and recently retired for health reasons.
As a justice appointed to fill in a spot left behind for a justice who retired with an unexpired term, Judge Yu will have to seek reelection in November in order to keep her seat. Here’s wishing her all the luck.