Oregon Governor announces appointment of Aruna Masih as State Supreme Court Justice

Aruna Masih. PHOTO: Anca Matica courtesy Oregon.gov

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek announced August 16, 2023, she will appoint Indian American Aruna Masih as a Judge to the state’s Supreme Court.

Masih, will be the first Indian American and South Asian Oregon Supreme Court Justice, the Governor’s Office noted in a press release. Masih, or Punjabi heritage according to the press release, is an attorney who has a distinguished career in employment, worker, and civil rights litigation.

“Aruna Masih is a decorated civil rights attorney who has worked on behalf of Oregonians for over twenty-five years in both her career and community service,” Governor Kotek is quoted saying in the press release. “As a practicing attorney, Aruna will bring direct and recent experience working for people — an invaluable perspective that will strengthen the current Oregon Supreme Court. Aruna’s dedication to public service and passion for equal access to justice is also evident from her long-time leadership in advancing equity and diversity in the legal field. I look forward to seeing her continued service to Oregonians as a Supreme Court Justice.”

For most of her career of more than 25 years, Masih has been a partner in the law firm of Bennett Hartman LLP, providing representation in a variety of areas, including employment, labor, appellate, professional licensure, contract, and constitutional law.

She has also represented clients at McKanna Bishop Joffe LLP.

Her legal background features a significant breadth of subject matter and a depth of technical expertise in nuanced Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) and pension case law, the press release noted.

Masih has served as Chair of the Oregon State Bar’s Advisory Committee for Diversity and Inclusion and as Chair of the Labor and Employment Section.

She is a founding member and Vice-President of the South Asian Bar Association of Oregon and currently serves on the Board of the Multnomah Bar Association and the Oregon Women Lawyers Foundation.

Masih is also a former board member of the Oregon Women Lawyers and the Oregon Minority Lawyers Association.

She is also an advisory board member for the Roseway Recovery Cafe, which serves community members in northeast Portland who have experienced trauma and the results of trauma, such as homelessness, substance use disorder, and addiction.

She has received the Multnomah Bar Association’s Diversity Award and an award of recognition from the Oregon Minority Lawyers Association for her work.

“Equal access to the courts is an issue of civil rights,” said Masih. “To meet the challenges of our society that the pandemic has undeniably made apparent, we must renew our purpose and redouble our efforts to create a justice system that is recognized by those who interact with it and are impacted by it to be respectful, accessible, and just.”

Masih said she looks forward to bringing her “unique perspective” from the experience of helping hundreds of Oregonians, to the Supreme Court. “I am committed to being a fair and thoughtful Justice and to continue being a steward of equal access under the law,” she said.

While a date for her swearing-in was not announced, the Governor’s Office indicated it would be in the very near future.



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