Xavier alumna Kathryn H. King appointed Arizona Supreme Court Justice

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Wanda Roberson

Kathryn Hackett King steps forward during the administration of oath presided over by Robert M. Brutinel, Chief Justice. She is joined by husband William F. King and children Emilia and John. Supreme Court Justices, judges, and 400 spectators gathered in Xavier’s PAC.

Yulianna Gomez, Faith In Action Editor

Class of ‘99 alumna Kathryn Hackett King’s investiture for Arizona Supreme Court Justice took place on January 7, 2022.

The investiture ceremony hosted about 400 people and was attended by the likes of Senator Doug Ducey, United States District Court Judge Michael T. Liburdi, Justice King’s mother Anita Hackett and many Xavier students. It took place in Xavier’s Performing Arts Center.

Xavier was glad to host the investiture but to many students it came as a surprise that it was held at Xavier. King said, “For me, I primarily wanted those attending my investiture to have insight into me as a person — for the event to have a personal touch.”

King’s appointment filled a vacancy created by now-former Justice Andrew Gould after his retirement earlier last year.

King could not believe the news when she first heard. “For a long time, I kept asking myself, ‘Did that really happen, or was that just a dream?’” she said.

King’s experience in all three branches of government is what led her to become the fifth woman in history to serve on the Arizona Supreme Court

Despite King’s installation, the bench remains largely white and male; she will join Ann Scott Timmer as the only women on the bench.

Up until her appointment she was a law partner at BurnsBarton PLC, a female-owned law firm, and a member of the Arizona Women Lawyers Association and the Federalist Society.

BurnsBarton Partner and former coworker of King, Christine Burns, commemorated her friend in a speech during the investiture.

“Kate is an extremely fair and thoughtful lawyer. She will approach each case objectively and do her best to be consistent and comply with the Arizona Constitution,” Burns said.

As law partners, Burns and King worked on countless cases together. “Our firm’s loss is Arizona’s win,” said Burns.

“Kate King has taken no shortcuts,” said Ducey. While King’s formal appointment to the Supreme Court took place in  July of 2021, the investiture ceremony was not held until recently, where she took the oath of office again. 

Ducey and King served closely together as from 2015 to 2017 King was deputy general counsel to Governor Ducey.

King’s niece, Makenna King, said that when King first told her family about the opportunity “she made it seem like a longshot.”

Sister Joan Fitzgerald, BVM, President of Xavier College Preparatory, also gave a speech at the investiture. Fitzgerald recounts King’s time at Xavier as a stepping stone for her future endeavors. 

“You were voted busy-body by your peers,” said Fitzgerald.

During her investiture ceremony two Xavier students from the executive board, President Aria Tseffos and Vice President Ansley Burns, presented King with a bouquet of flowers on behalf of the Xavier community.

Xavier played an important role in King’s development personally and professionally. To have the investiture ceremony at Xavier was “quite meaningful to me,” said King.

“While at Xavier, the school’s focus on encouraging and guiding young women in unique ways became clear to me … I believe my Xavier education, and the greater Xavier community, instilled in me the knowledge, skills, confidence and direction that helped me pursue and enter into this new role,” King said.