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Former Florida Supreme Court Justice says a Black woman now a 'decision maker' for the nation's highest court

Woman standing in a library, looking at camera
Octavio Jones
/
WUSF Public Media
Peggy Quince of Tampa served as a Florida State Supreme Court Justice for 20 years.

Peggy Quince, the first Black woman to serve on Florida's Supreme Court, was a lawyer for 47 years, and a judge for 25.

Thursday’s confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court is a first, and it holds extra significance to women of color who practice law.

WUSF spoke about this historic moment with Peggy Quince, the first Black woman to serve on Florida's Supreme Court:

“As a black female, who has been a lawyer for 47 years, and a judge for 25 years, it means that we are taking our place on the highest court in the country. We have long been struggling to be a part of the decision makers, be a part - to be at the table when the decisions that are affecting all of our lives are made.

And this means that Judge Jackson will be at the table, whether her view of the situation carries the day or not, she will be at the table when decisions that affect every person in the United States are made.

There have been really outstanding women who have been on all levels of our court system, outstanding black women, there have been at least seven who have been on our various state supreme courts. I would say any one of those women would have made a great justice on the United States Supreme Court.

Now if you have said, Peggie, you will be, I would not have believed you. But I honestly believe that at some point, and I'm glad it's happening in my lifetime, that there would be a black woman on the United States Supreme Court.

We are just as qualified as anyone who has been on that court. Judge Jackson will be the 116th Justice on the United States Supreme Court. And certainly, during all those periods that the Supreme Court has been in operation, there have been women — black women — who were eminently qualified to be there.”