Scott Appointee Would Be First Woman of Color on Vermont Supreme Court | Off Message

Scott Appointee Would Be First Woman of Color on Vermont Supreme Court


Judge Nancy Waples - STATE OF VERMONT
  • State of Vermont
  • Judge Nancy Waples
Gov. Phil Scott has nominated Superior Court Judge Nancy Waples to the Vermont Supreme Court, the governor's office announced on Friday.

If confirmed by the Vermont Senate, Waples, a state judge since 2015, will be the first woman of color to serve on the state's high court.

Her appointment fills the seat held by Justice Beth Robinson, who President Joe Biden nominated to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit last year. Upon confirmation by the U.S. Senate, Robinson became the first openly LGBTQ woman to serve on a federal district court.
Waples' parents were Chinese immigrants who fled the communist revolution and settled in Toronto, Canada, because federal Chinese exclusion laws prevented them from resettling in the U.S. The family later moved to the New York City area, where Waples grew up working in a Chinese restaurant her parents ran.

“My parents traveled halfway around the world with literally nothing more than the clothes on their backs to live in a place that didn’t speak their language, where they didn’t have any friends or family,” Waples said in a statement. “They came here seeking greater opportunities and longed for a life of dignity and decency. They share my pride in receiving this historic appointment. "

Waples earned her law degree from St. John’s University School of Law and became a prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's Office. She also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in Vermont, working on criminal cases out of the Rutland office. Former governor Peter Shumlin appointed her to the Superior Court in late 2014.

"Judge Waples has already served the State with distinction, earning the respect of her colleagues, members of the Bar and those who have come before her," Scott said in his announcement. "Her story, perspective and skills will make her an exceptional justice, and I’m proud to make this historic appointment.”
The governor selected Waples, of Hinesburg, from a list prepared by a judicial nominating commission. If confirmed by state lawmakers, she will serve a six-year term before facing a retention vote by the General Assembly.

"I hope my appointment inspires other people of color to reach outside of their comfort zone and climb the same ladder I climbed, and I will be there to lend my hand," Waples said.