For the first time in history, an Asian American woman has been appointed to Georgia’s Supreme Court.
Gov. Brian Kemp named Carla Wong McMillian to the state’s highest judicial authority on Friday, filling the vacancy from the retirement of Justice Robert Benham on March 1.
Prior to her appointment, McMillian, 46, had served on the state Court of Appeals since 2013.
“Obviously, there are more important things happening in the world right now, but this appointment is an honor and a proud moment for me and my family,” she said, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “I am humbled by Gov. Kemp’s confidence in me.”
McMillian’s grandparents reportedly immigrated from China in the 1920s, while her mother came from Hong Kong. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Duke University and her law degree from the University of Georgia.
The judge served as a partner with Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP. In 2010, she was appointed to the State Court of Fayette County by then-Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Finally finished putting my office together. pic.twitter.com/OvOz1my1aG
— Judge Carla Wong McMillian (@JudgeCarla) January 29, 2020
McMillian was then elected to a full-term on the same court in 2012 with 66% of the vote, according to The Citizen. The following year, Gov. Nathan Deal appointed her to the Georgia Court of Appeals.
That appointment made her the first-ever Asian American state appellate judge in the Southeast. Then, in 2014, she became the first Asian American elected to a statewide office in Georgia.
— Judge Carla Wong McMillian (@JudgeCarla) January 23, 2020
McMillian was submitted as a potential nominee to the governor earlier this month, along with other female judges. Those included Verda Colvin, Sara L. Doyle and Shawn LaGrua.
The Georgia Supreme Court is composed of nine justices. McMillian is joining Chief Justice Harold Melton (Chief Justice), David Nahmias (Presiding Justice), Keith R. Blackwell, Michael P. Boggs, Nels S.D. Peterson, Sarah Hawkins Warren, Charlie Bethel, and John J. Ellington.
Thanks all for the congratulatory texts, calls, emails, and posts. Obviously, there are more important things happening in the world, but I am honored that @GovKemp has placed his confidence in me and look forward to serving this great State on the Supreme Court.
— Judge Carla Wong McMillian (@JudgeCarla) March 28, 2020
Gov. Kemp also filled two vacancies on the Court of Appeals on Friday, one of which resulted from McMillian’s appointment.
McMillian lives with her husband, Lance, and two children in Tyrone, Fayette County.