A day after the first black woman was confirmed to serve on the US Supreme Court, a nomination hearing has taken place in Maine for the judge who could be the first person of color to serve on the highest court. of this state.
On Friday afternoon, Maine District Court Judge Rick Lawrence appeared before the Maine Legislature Judiciary Committee for a hearing that resulted in the advancement of his nomination to the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine.
All 10 committee members present at the hearing voted affirmatively to forward Lawrence’s review to the entire Maine Senate.
“It’s a separate honor,” Lawrence told reporters gathered outside the Maine State House courtroom after the vote.
On Monday, Maine Governor Janet Mills announced she would nominate District Court Judge Rick Lawrence to serve on the state’s most powerful judicial body.
Lawrence is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Yale University, originally from Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
He has served as a Maine District Court judge since 2000, when he was first appointed to the position by the then governor. Angus King. He has since been renominated by governors from both parties, including Republican Paul LePage, who is seeking a third non-consecutive term in 2022.
Current Governor Janet Mills, a Democrat, nominated Lawrence to the high court last month.
During his hearing, Lawrence spoke about his experience and career, including his work for companies like Unum Insurance.
He said he would be an effective bridge to Maine’s Supreme Judicial Court from critical areas of the state’s court system that deal with cases involving minors and protection from abuse cases.
“By training, experience and predisposition, I am uniquely motivated to make the effort to do the work necessary to ensure the critical link is maintained,” he said.
Lawrence, who was joined by some family members at the hearing, also highlighted his childhood in Great Barrington, recalled that his parents had moved there from the southern United States and explained how the discrimination they faced had influenced his decision to pursue a career in law.
“I can still remember my parents being denied service at restaurants on the freeway, our family being relegated to barely functional colored restrooms at rest stops, and my parents having to look for a hotel where my family would be allowed to stay overnight,” he told the committee. “My interest in law and one day becoming a lawyer grew from these roots.”
Others who spoke at the hearing were Mainers new and old, including a Somali-American woman from Lewiston who told the committee that Lawrence had a profound impact on Somali families who migrated to this city.
“This man has the opportunity to write Maine state history,” she said.
As Lawrence prepared to leave the State House after the vote, he was also asked about Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation to the United States Supreme Court.
He called Jackson “inspirational” and “very talented”, adding that he hoped people around the world would get to see her talent once she was a sitting judge.
As for his own audition, he said, “I hope people get an idea of my values, where I come from and feel comfortable about the work I will be doing at the Palace of justice”.
The entire Maine Senate is expected to vote on Lawrence’s confirmation at some point over the next few weeks and, possibly, as early as next week.