Native American Jewish Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis Tells Us How She Made History

Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis answers questions from the press after Gov. Jay Inslee announced her appointment to the Washington State Supreme Court. (Office of the Governor photo)

When Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis was sworn in to Washington’s Supreme Court earlier this month, she became the second-ever Native American person to serve on a state Supreme Court.

“This was never something I really planned on or expected to happen,” Montoya-Lewis tells Kveller via phone from her offices in Olympia, Washington.

When she first heard of her appointment by Governor Jay Inslee, her reaction was “disbelief,” she says. You see, Montoya-Lewis never intended to be a lawyer or a judge — even when she was in law school. “My intention, when I went to law school, was to study how institutions impact people; the law was something that I looked at as being an institution that had incredibly widespread impact,” she says. “My goal was to be a professor, rather than be a lawyer.”

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