Judge Mary Yu becomes 1st #AAPI, 1st openly gay judge on WA Supreme Court

May 2, 2014
Hon. Mary I. Yu has been tapped to sit on the WA Supreme Court, making her the first AAPI and first openly gay judge to sit on the state's higher court.
Hon. Mary I. Yu has been tapped to sit on the WA Supreme Court, making her the first AAPI and first openly gay judge to sit on the state’s higher court.

Hon. Mary I. Yu has been appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to the Washington Supreme Court, making her the state’s first Asian American and first openly gay Supreme Court justice. Yu makes this step after spending 14 years serving on the King County Superior Court, which she was appointed to by then-governor Gary Locke in 2000, the nation’s first governor of Asian descent.

Yu, the daughter of Mexican and Chinese immigrants, will be the higher court’s 6th woman and 2nd minority justice. She replaces retiring Justice James Johnson, the court’s undisputedly most conservative member. Johnson said of Yu shortly after he retired earlier this week:

Johnson told the Northwest News Network that while he personally likes Yu, he was concerned that “this court still is not balanced, does not represent all the people of the state, and I’m not sure this is a positive step.”

Johnson’s remarks notwithstanding, Yu is well-known for her compassion and intellect; she made news two years ago when she officiated King County’s first gay marriage on December 9, 2012, shortly after it was legalized in Washington state.

Yu officiates the marriage of Emily (left) and Sarah Coffer on December 9, 2012. (Photo credit: AP / Elaine Thompson)
Yu officiates the marriage of Emily (left) and Sarah Coffer on December 9, 2012. (Photo credit: AP / Elaine Thompson)

In commenting on her appointment, Yu said:

“As a trial court judge for the last 14 years, I have the utmost respect for our Supreme Court and for the justices who serve our state through their dedicated service,” Yu said. “This Supreme Court is indeed an august group of individuals who are committed to the rule of law and to doing the very best job that they can. I commit today to working collaboratively with them so that the integrity of this institution is only strengthened by our work.”

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