NEWARK — Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday nominated Rachel Wainer Apter to be an associate justice of the state Supreme Court, making his pick to replace the retiring Jaynee LaVecchia.

Apter, 40, is currently the head of the Civil Rights Division within the state Attorney General's Office and previously served as counsel to the attorney general.

A Harvard Law School graduate, Apter was an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union and also a clerk for the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was at the center of Monday's nomination.

Murphy noted the day would have been Ginsburg's 88th birthday, and the event was held at the newly re-christened Ruth Bader Ginsburg Hall at Rutgers Law School, where the justice had been a professor.

Apter cited her great-grandparents, who she said fled anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe, as part of her inspiration for pursuing a career in civil rights law.

“The law is not simply a subject to be debated or a puzzle to be solved, but something that profoundly impacts the lives of individual people each day,” she said.

Apter's appointment must be approved by the Democrat-led state Senate. If approved, she would fill the seat being vacated by LaVecchia, who recently announced she would be retiring from the high court when the term ends in August. She has served as a justice for more than two decades.

She is the governor's second nomination to the court. Fabiana Pierre-Louis became the first Black woman on the court when she was sworn in in September.

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