California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced his intention to appoint Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kelli Evans to serve as an associate justice of the California Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by Justice Guerrero's elevation to Chief Justice, according to a press release from his office.
The Bay Area Reporter noted that Evans, if confirmed, will be the first out LGBTQ+ woman and second out African American to serve on it.
A Black married mother, Evans would double out representation on the state's highest court, as Newsom in 2020 named Martin J. Jenkins, a gay Black man, as an associate justice. He was confirmed Nov. 10, 2020.
"I am truly honored by this opportunity to serve the people of California on our state's highest court," said Evans in the press release. "I have worked my entire career to promote equality and access to justice and to protect the rights of some of society's most disenfranchised members. If confirmed, I look forward to furthering our state's work to ensure equal justice under the law for all Californians."
Newsom also announced his nomination of Supreme Court Associate Justice Patricia Guerrero to serve as California's next chief justice after Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye concludes her current term of office on Jan. 2, 2023. A first-generation Californian, Guerrero was the first Latina to serve on the California Supreme Court and, if confirmed, will be the first Latina to serve as the state's chief justice.
Equality California Executive Director Tony Hoang said in a separate statement, "Representation is power, and it's critical in our collective fight for full, lived equality. Governor Newsom's historic appointment of Judge Evans ensures that California's highest court better reflects the diversity of our state and sends an important message to the rest of the country at a time when LGBTQ+ people, women and communities of color are under attack. Judge Evans is an outstanding, highly qualified jurist, and we are confident she will continue to uphold and advance equal justice under the law for all Californians."
The governor's nominations and appointments must be submitted to the State Bar's Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation and confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Guerrero's nomination must also be confirmed by the voters in the Nov. 8, 2022 general election.