Governor Murphy Nominates Rachel Wainer Apter to the Supreme Court

That did not take long. As discussed here, Justice LaVecchia announced on March 8 that she would leave the bench in August. Today, one week later, Governor Murphy announced that he was nominating Rachel Wainer Apter to fill that seat.

Ms. Wainer Apter currently is the Director of the New Jersey Division of Civil Rights. She has impressive credentials, having graduated the University of Pennsylvania summa cum laude as an undergraduate and having then obtained her J.D. from Harvard Law School magna cum laude. After law school, she clerked for three distinguished jurists: Judge Jed Rakoff of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, Judge Robert Katzmann of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, and United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Ms. Wainer Apter ‘s employment history includes a stint at Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe, as part of that firm’s appellate practice. She also worked at the American Civil Liberties Union, where she handled cases involving discrimination, voting rights, and reproductive freedom. Ms. Wainer Apter was part of Governor Murphy’s transition team in 2017 and moved from there to a position as Counsel to the Attorney General. Her work in that role focused on civil rights and immigration matters, including a role in challenging the Trump administration’s efforts to terminate the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program.

This nomination is connected, in various ways, to other female Justices. The announcement of Ms. Wainer Apter’s nomination was made on the date that would have been the 88th birthday of Justice Ginsburg, and the venue for the announcement was Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall at Rutgers-Newark School of Law, where the future Justice Ginsburg taught. The seat for which Ms. Wainer Apter was nominated was held by Justice Garibaldi, the first woman Justice on the Supreme Court of New Jersey. And, of course, if confirmed, she would replace Justice LaVecchia, who holds the record for length of services among women Justices on the Court.

At age 40, Ms. Wainer Apter has the potential to sit on the Court for nearly three decades. Her nomination continues a generational shift in the Court that began with the nomination by Governor Murphy and the confirmation of Justice Pierre-Louis. With every other member of the Court , the entire Court will turn over in the next eight years.