Police are investigating the cause of Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam’s death.
New York politicians and activist groups hailed her legacy.
“Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was a trailblazing jurist and a force for good,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who appointed her to the Court of Appeals in 2013, said on Twitter. “On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest sympathies.”
“This is tragic,” tweeted Muslim Advocates, a civil rights organization based in Oakland. “We share our condolences to Judge Abdus-Salaam’s family and to the people of NY. Stay strong.”
First Muslim on New York’s highest court was a ‘trail-blazing jurist’
Lambda Legal, a New York-based organization that worked with Abdus-Salaam on the parenting case, said her death marked a great loss to the advocacy community.
“Judge Abdus-Salaam saw clearly how damaging it was to keep LGBT parents from their children,” the organization said in a statement on its website. “We owe her a tremendous debt of gratitude. She touched the lives of many New Yorkers; her legacy will live on.”
Zakiyyah Muhammad, the founding director of the Institute of Muslim American Studies, said Abdus-Salaam became the first female Muslim judge in the United States when she began serving on the State Supreme Court in 1994, the Times reports.
Abdus-Salaam was a native of Washington, DC, according to the New York State Court of Appeals. A graduate of Barnard College and Columbia Law School, she started her legal career as a staff attorney at Brooklyn Legal Services. She joined the bench in 1992, following her election to the New York City Civil Court. The state Senate confirmed her appointment to the Court of Appeals in 2013.