Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s death has shocked people across the US and beyond. While death is inevitable, the way, the first American Muslim woman judge at such a high position has died has come as a bigger shock. She was 65 and was an upright judge who was known for her integrity and no-nonsense attitude.
One of the very few Muslims to grace such a high position in US judiciary and also from among the African American women, her integrity was above question. This is the reason that the entire top US jurists are mourning her death.
New York Gov. Cuomo while mourning her death, said in a statement “Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist whose life in public service was in pursuit of a more fair and more just New York for all…She was a pioneer…Through her writings, her wisdom, and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come. I was proud to appoint her to the state’s highest court and am deeply saddened by her passing.”
A CBSNew report says that the distinguished judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s body was found floating in the water near 132nd Street and Hudson Parkway at around 1:45 p.m. The police were informed by onlookers who found a fully clothed body floating in the river. Associate judge of the Court of Appeals, Sheila Abdus-Salaam had been missing for the last one day and a missing person’s complaint had been filed.
The 65-year old Sheila Abdus-Salaam was born in Washington DC on March 14, 1952. She was appointed as judge on the New York Court of Appeals and was reportedly the first black woman and Muslim to be appointed to a seat on New York’s highest court, and the first Muslim woman to serve on the bench in the United States. She was designated as a Justice for the Appellate Division, First Judicial Department in 2009 by Governor David Paterson. She was an Associate Justice of the New York Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Judicial Department from 2009 until her elevation in 2013.
Chief Judge Janet DiFiore was apparently shocked by the news of her death. Chief Judge Janet DiFiore said she will be “missed deeply.” “Her personal warmth, uncompromising sense of fairness and bright legal mind were an inspiration to all of us who had the good fortune to know her,” DiFiore said.
Her former colleagues have been deeply shattered by her death. Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said he knew Abdus-Salaam for many years. He went on to add that her death of was “difficult to understand.” “The court has suffered a terrible blow,” he said.