Washington's First Openly-Gay Supreme Court Justice Sworn Into Office

May 20, 2014

The Washington Supreme Court's first openly gay justice has been sworn into the bench. Former King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu is also the first Asian American and first female Hispanic member of the court.

Yu took the oath in Washington’s Temple of Justice on Tuesday. Afterward, she expressed some relief that she won’t face an opponent in the fall election.

Yu will run in November to finish out the term of retiring Justice Jim Johnson. Like a lot of appointed judges this year, Yu faces no opposition on the ballot. 

“I would like to believe that it’s because I’m a trial court judge with 14 years of experience that people would say, 'You know what? This is a legitimate person who maybe deserves an opportunity,'”

Another factor may have been the short timeline between Yu’s appointment by Gov. Jay Inslee and the deadline for candidates to file for office. Court watcher Alex Hayes views the lack of a candidate to challenge Yu as a missed opportunity.

“Generally the opportunity to challenge an appointed judge is at that moment that they were appointed, and in two years Judge Yu will frankly more difficult to defeat at the ballot box than she is today," Hayes said.

Hayes helped elect Justice Jim Johnson, who was widely viewed as the lone conservative on the Washington Supreme Court. Nineteen of Inslee’s appointments to the bench are on the ballot this fall, but only one faces a challenger.