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Illinois’ Supreme Court swore in its first Black woman Justice Thursday afternoon when Lisa White took the place of retiring Justice Rita Garman.
At the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield Thursday afternoon, White was sworn in in front of a packed theater.
Retiring Justice Rita Garman called it “a historic day for the Land of Lincoln”. After her speech, Garman removed her robe and placed it around White before the two embraced.
Garman served on Illinois’ Supreme Court for 48 ½ years before announcing her resignation in May. She picked White to be her replacement, who was later approved by the full court. Garman delayed her resignation until after the June 28 primaries, allowing White to not have to campaign this fall. Illinois voters will get the chance to confirm the vacancy in the 2024 election.
Justice Lisa White
Justice White is a former 4th District State Appellate Court justice, who has sat on the bench for over 20 years. At 54-years-old, White noted the significance of her swearing in taking place in a museum dedicated to Lincoln, “the man who freed the slaves, my ancestors, is of special significance to me,” she said.
“My heritage is a heritage that once involved minds and bodies that were shackled, and doors that were so long closed,” White said. “You see, taking my oath in this place today goes far beyond a personal professional achievement. As I see it, taking my oath in this place today recognizes the undeniable value and merit of what I, as a Black woman, mother, daughter, sister, wife and jurist have to contribute to the work of our state’s highest court, it is proof positive of the progress of this great nation, and our great state.”
White’s appointment comes the week after Ketanji Brown Jackson was sworn in as a U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
“(Today) is a testimony to the notion that as women and people of color, we need not limit our dreams or settle for less because when we prepare ourselves, doors will open and we will walk through them fully equipped to serve with dignity, to serve with integrity, to serve with humility, and to serve with exceptional intellectual capabilities,” White said.