As the 220th New Jersey Legislature begins, Governor Phil Murphy today announced his intention to renominate Rachel Wainer Apter to the New Jersey Supreme Court to fill the vacant seat of Associate Justice Jaynee LaVecchia, who retired on December 31 of last year.
“Since first nominating Rachel Wainer Apter to the New Jersey Supreme Court last year, I have only grown more confident in her character and the integrity she will bring as a future Justice,” said Governor Murphy. “The direction of the New Jersey Supreme Court has never been more important. I am hopeful for a swift confirmation by the Senate and look forward to the day that we can swear her in to fill the tremendous void left by Justice LaVecchia, whose impact on New Jersey law is matched by few in the Court’s history.”
Wainer Apter currently serves as Director of the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights – the state agency charged with protecting the civil rights of all New Jerseyans. The Division is responsible for enforcing the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, the nation’s oldest anti-discrimination law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, pregnancy or breastfeeding, and a variety of other protected characteristics in the workforce, places of public accommodation, housing, and lending. The Division is also charged with preventing and eliminating discrimination in New Jersey by both receiving, investigating and acting upon complaints alleging discrimination, and by affirmatively issuing reports and publications, conducting investigations, and implementing educational and community outreach programs to address discrimination.
Prior to her current role, Wainer Apter served as Counsel to the Attorney General, advising on civil rights and immigration matters, including leading the New Jersey team that defeated a motion by Texas and seven other states to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Prior to joining the Attorney General’s Office, Wainer Apter worked at the American Civil Liberties Union on key civil rights and voting rights cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, including Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission and Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, and on cases implicating the Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, and Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Wainer Apter also argued and won a disability discrimination appeal in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and led a task force regarding investigations into incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault on college campuses.
After law school, Wainer Apter served as a law clerk for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the United States Supreme Court, Judge Robert Katzmann on the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and Judge Jed Rakoff on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. She also worked in the Supreme Court and Appellate practice at Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, where she worked on dozens of cases in the United States Supreme Court and federal and state courts of appeal, including three Supreme Court merits cases, a successful petition for certiorari, and a successful petition for en banc rehearing.
Rachel graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, summa cum laude, and received her law degree from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude. A native of Rockaway, New Jersey, Rachel lives in Englewood with her husband Jonathan and three children.