Another first

The story was fairly routine. It reported Washington Gov. Jay Inslee appointed “the first Native American justice to serve on the Washington Supreme Court.”

Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis, 51, a member of the Pueblo of Isleta tribe of New Mexico, is to replace Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst when she retires in January.

The NW News Network described the appointment as a “barrier-breaking.”

It got us thinking: How many times over the years have we seen “first” news stories based largely on the color of a person’s skin or their religious background, ethnicity or sexual orientation? The first black to this. The first gay couple to do that. The first Catholic president.

It is a staple element, seemingly aimed at making the story more important. Another first. Another milestone. Another step.

There is little doubt in our mind that Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Raquel Montoya-Lewis is fully qualified to sit on Washington’s high court; that her legal qualifications for the job far outweigh her being a member of the Pueblo of Isleta tribe of New Mexico. Why was her lineage so important to the story?

In time, we suspect such superlatives in news stories will fade as one first after another falls; that race, sex and religion will wither as key elements of news about something else.

No news, when that happens, will be good news.

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