MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – Minnesota’s newest Supreme Court justice was sworn in Tuesday afternoon by the woman she’s replacing.
Supreme Court Justice Wilhelmina Wright, 48, took the oath from Justice Helen Meyer, who stepped down to pursue other career opportunities.
“I bring — as people who know me well have said — both my head and my heart to this new opportunity to serve Minnesota,” Wright said.
Wright is the first black woman to serve on the court. She’s the 90th associate justice in state history. Gov. Mark Dayton appointed Wright in August.
“Our courts are only as good as our judges, and they can only be great with great ones,” Dayton said. “Justice Wright, I’m sure you will be a great Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court.”
Wright graduated from Yale University and got her law degree from Harvard. She grew up in Norfolk, Va.
She cites, as an early inspiration, her mother’s fight to allow African American children to attend white public schools 20 years after the Supreme Court ordered it.
Wright was previously a trial judge in Ramsey County District Court and, before that, an assistant U.S. attorney in Minnesota, where she prosecuted violent crime and economic fraud cases.
In 2002, Wright served as an appeals court judge where she was appointed by former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. She took a moment to thank him.
“I’m also grateful to Governor Ventura. who gave me two opportunities to serve in the judiciary that prepared me so well for this new challenge,” she said.
Wright is the first Supreme Court appointment by a Democratic governor in more than two decades.
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