Gov. Jay Inslee helped usher in a historic day for the Washington State Supreme Court last Wednesday when he appointed Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis as the first Native American justice in Olympia.

Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis. Photo courtesy of AJ Barse.

“Because Judge Montoya-Lewis is Native American, many will focus on the historic nature of this appointment,” Inslee said. “And it’s entirely appropriate to do so. But I want the record to show that Judge Montoya-Lewis is the kind of exceptional judge I want serving on the highest court in our state because she is the best person for the job.”

Montoya-Lewis has more than 20 years of judicial experience, including five on the Whatcom County Superior Court. She spent years working with tribal communities in Washington and elsewhere, and is familiar with the challenges that tribal and rural communities face. She also worked on issues to protect children from exploitation, and received the Children’s Advocacy Center Community Leadership Award in 2018.

Montoya-Lewis will succeed Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst when she retires from the court in January. More information available here.