Both nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court and the Vermont Supreme Court could mark two historic firsts for the nation and state.

President Biden created a vacancy in the Vermont Supreme Court by appointing Justice Beth Robinson to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If confirmed, Vermont Supreme Court nominee Judge Nancy Waples will replace Robinson.

This comes as President Biden announced his Supreme Court nomination, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Dr. Lisa Holmes, an associate professor of political science at the University of Vermont, says Jackson isn’t only breaking barriers as a black woman, her professional background sets her apart as well.

“The one thing in her background that is less typical these days is that she has worked as a public defender,” said Dr. Holmes. “That’s very interesting. It is something President Biden has been emphasizing – diversifying the bench not just in terms of race or religion, gender or ethnicity, but political background as well.”  

Holmes says she believes Judge Jackson will gain broad bipartisan support as will Vermont Superior Court Judge Nancy Waples.

“One interesting thing about that is she was appointed to that position by Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat,” said Holmes.

On Friday, Governor Phil Scott said Waples will make an “exceptional justice”. Waples is the daughter of Chinese immigrants who fled the communist revolution in China. Some Vermonters dedicated to supporting the BIPOC population are proud to see this representation.

“I do identify with the Chinese community and that’s part of why this is exciting is that she is an immigrant to this country and that is meaningful to me personally,” said Weiwei Wang from the Vermont Professionals of Color Network. “I hope that over time there is so much more recognition of the diversity of Vermont. There are new Americans here, there are BIPOC individuals here, people of the global majority, we are represented here, and we’d like to see that more in the workforce.”

Dr. Holmes adds both Judge Jackson and Judge Waples are highly qualified nominees and expects the U.S. and State Senate to confirm these picks.