Judge Wilhelmina Wright will serve as the state’s newest Supreme Court justice.
Wright, 48, will be the first African American woman on the state’s highest court. She replaces retiring Justice Helen Meyer.
During a press conference to announce his appointment, Gov. Mark Dayton said while choosing between four candidates was difficult, he was impressed with Wright’s written opinions.
“I was greatly impressed by her exceptional intellect, her written communication skills and, most importantly, her excellent judgment,” Dayton said.
Wright already has had a long career in Minnesota courts.
She has served on the Minnesota Court of Appeals since 2002, and prior to that, was a trial judge in Ramsey County district court. She also served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Minnesota, where she worked on economic fraud and violent crime cases.
Earlier in her career, Wright worked at the Washington, D.C. law firm Hogan & Hartson where she represented school districts.
She earned her undergraduate degree at Yale University and her law degree at Harvard Law School.
Wright said her views on the role of the courts was shaped by her upbringing in Norfolk, Va. Wright said the city actively resisted the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling that outlawed segregation in schools.
Wright recalled her mother fought the local superintendent to ensure that her children had access to a quality education in a desegregated school.
“By her example, that played a major role in my experience in understanding the importance of the rule of law, but also the importance of people who are going to make the law live up to its promise of equality and justice,” Wright said. “It is that experience that really informs my understanding of what it means to be a justice and judge in Minnesota, because court orders have to be followed, they have to be meaningful.”
While serving on the state’s Supreme Court, Wright pledged to “work hard to ensure that Minnesotans continue to have a judiciary that is committed to fairness and justice for all.”