The body of Sheila Abdus-Salaam was found on Wednesday afternoon floating near West 132nd Street in Upper Manhattan, according to The New York Times. Abdus-Salaam was an associate judge on New York State’s highest court, breaking through many barriers to serve the state. She was the first African-American woman to serve in her position. She was also the the first female Muslim judge in the United States when she was appointed in 1994. Governor Cuomo acknowledged the loss and Abdus-Salaam’s accomplishments on Twitter, writing, “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.”
Police are investigating how Abdus-Salaam ended up in the Hudson. Her husband identified her body, but it is unclear how long she was missing. She was found fully clothed and officials say there were “no signs of criminality.”
Abdus-Salaam came from a working class background, and is known to have consistently sided with the poor and disenfranchised. When she was nominated to the State Supreme Court by Gov. Cuomo in 2013, he praised her for having a “deep understanding of the everyday issues facing New Yorkers.”
Abdus-Salaam made one of her most influential decisions last summer in Brooke S.B. v. Elizabeth A.C.C., in which she expanded parental rights to the benefit of LGBTQ relationships. For the last 25 years, the non-biological parent in a same sex couple had no rights to custody or visitation. Abdus-Salaam wrote that this ruling had become “unworkable when applied to increasingly varied familial relationships.”
[Image: New York State Court Of Appeals]
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