The Rhode Island Supreme Court has its first Black justice.
Superior Court Judge Melissa A. Long was sworn in on Monday during a small ceremony on the State House steps presided over by Chief Justice Paul Suttell.
"Every day, when I arrive at the courthouse, I will recommit to taking the time to understand the stories of those whose cases come before me, and to appreciating that those stories matter. …. I will uphold my solemn duty to enhance the public's belief in our judicial system," she said.
She thanked those who have inspired her, including Judge O. Rogeriee Thompson, the first African American and the second woman to sit on the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Thompson urged Long to apply for the seat, she said.
"Judge Thompson, your belief in me – your believing in me – has been transformative for me. Today, it has also been transformative for our courts," Long said.
With the swearing in of Justice Long on Monday and Justice Erin Lynch Prata last week, the high court has a female majority for the first time in its history.
Long and Lynch Prata replaced Justice Francis X. Flaherty and Justice Gilbert Indeglia, respectively, who both retired in 2020.