“In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity.” — Justice Sandra Day O’Connor
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, wrote those words in 2003, in a decision affirming the right of institutions to seek and promote diversity within their ranks.
Seeing a wide range of lived experience and perspectives among the ranks of civic and government leaders has a powerful effect, particularly for communities of people who have historically been denied a seat at tables of power.
For Gov. Jay Inslee, who has sought to improve equity across Washington’s legal justice system, increasing diversity on court benches has been an ongoing effort. He has sought to appoint judges and justices at every level of the court system that ensure the state’s courts are more reflective of the people they serve. The governor’s appointments have also created a pipeline of highly-qualified judges who are being tapped for higher courts. President Biden, like President Obama before him, has elevated some of the governor’s appointees to the federal bench.