1st Black female Illinois Supreme Court justice to be sworn in Thursday

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ByWill Jones via WLS logo
Wednesday, July 6, 2022
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Fourth District Appellate Court Justice Lisa Holder White will be sworn in to serve on the state's highest court at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Fourth District Appellate Court Justice Lisa Holder White will be sworn in to serve on the state's highest court at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

Holder White will be the first Black woman to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court.

"When I think about that, what I reflect on is those who came before me who didn't have the same opportunities that I've had," Holder White said. "Those who came before me when those doors were closed, and that door is now being opened."

According to the nonpartisan law and policy organization, the Brennan Center for Justice, just 17% of justices are Black, Latino, Asian American, or Native American across all state high courts. By contrast, people of color make up almost 40% of the U.S. population.

Holder White, who was appointed in place of retiring Justice Rita Garman, has been the first in several roles in her career. She was the first Black judge in the Sixth Judicial Circuit when she was sworn in in 2001, and became the first Black justice in the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District in 2013.

"I just followed the advice that I've told people that my mother always gave me and my two sisters and that was to bloom where you're planted," Holder White said.

She's taking on this new position right after the first Black woman was sworn in to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.

"I'm sure she feels an immense amount of thankfulness and honor and very mindful of the huge responsibility that you have when you serve as a judge and particularly at that level," Holder White said. "I have thought about that and I certainly wish her well and I can definitely identify with how I think she's probably feeling."

Holder White said she's looking forward to getting started on the court's work. She discussed what would be her guiding principles.

"I'm always mindful of the fact that I'm a judge, I'm not a legislator," Holder White said. "If you want a law made or you have a problem with the law, generally, then you need to talk to the person that was elected."

Holder White said she plans to run for the position in 2024 when her appointed term expires.