Tribes support Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis’ bid to retain Washington State Supreme Court seat
Retain Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis State Supreme Court
Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis, an enrolled member of the Pueblo of Isleta Tribe of New Mexico, is running to retain her seat on the Washington Supreme Court. She is the first Native American to serve on the Washington Supreme Court, and only the second Native American State Supreme Court Justice in the country. Justice Montoya-Lewis was appointed to the court by Governor Jay Inslee following five years on the Whatcom County Superior Court bench.
“Representation matters. Having a voice at the table – and on the bench – for Native American communities, and other underrepresented communities, will ensure a thoughtful review of the issues at hand, now and in the future,” said Justice Montoya-Lewis. “Much of my work has centered on equity, implicit bias, and cultural identity. I will continue to bring those lenses to our work on the Supreme Court as we seek to ensure fair and just outcomes for all Washingtonians.”
Tribes and Indigenous leaders in Washington are lining up to support Justice Montoya-Lewis.
The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation issued an endorsement statement, saying that Justice Montoya-Lewis “has the legal mind and acumen needed for the job, but more importantly she has the heart and compassion that our society needs from state judges.”
Spokane Tribe of Indians Chairwoman Carol Evans said that Justice Montoya-Lewis “represents equality and justice for all” and calls her “a strong advocate for our youth.” The Spokane Tribe, in its endorsement of Justice Montoya-Lewis, cited her local and national work in juvenile justice as proof of her “comprehensive understanding of issues affecting Indigenous peoples.”
Jamestown S’Klallam Chairman and CEO W. Ron Allen stated: “Tribes have fought for years to get American Indians appointed and elected to the judicial system, from local to state to federal levels. Indian Country must fully support Justice Montoya-Lewis to stay on the Washington State Supreme Court. It is an opportunity we must win.”
According to Seattle City Councilwoman Debora Juarez, who was Washington state’s first Native American Superior Court judge: “Indigenous women are the North Star in our tribal communities. Justice Montoya-Lewis’ power and presence on our state's highest court cannot be understated or denied. She is now the North Star that all Washingtonians—especially our women and daughters—can gaze up at in search of justice and hope.“
Justice Montoya-Lewis, who has also served as Chief Judge for the Lummi, Nooksack, and Upper Skagit Indian Tribes, is an unyielding advocate for communities systemically marginalized by the criminal justice system. She has led trainings addressing implicit bias across the state and has centered racial inequality as a fundamental part of her daily work. She is a strong advocate for making courts more accessible to all communities.
“Justice must be accessible to those who have to or wish to seek it,” said Montoya-Lewis. “This is a significant priority to me as a judge who has seen firsthand how inaccessible the legal system is to so many. It is my goal to ensure there are open channels to justice that are not impeded by cost.”
Justice Montoya-Lewis has earned an extensive list of endorsements, including each of her colleagues on the Washington State Supreme Court, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and Spokane Tribe of Indians, as well as Indigenous leaders across Washington state.
Justice Montoya-Lewis is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and the University of Washington School of Law and the Graduate School of Social Work. She lives with her family in Olympia having recently relocated after living in Bellingham for 17 years.
Learn more at justicemontoyalewis.com.