Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday his decision to nominate Justice Paul G. Feinman to the New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

If confirmed, Feinman would be the first openly gay justice on the Court of Appeals. Feinman has been a judge in New York for more than 20 years, and currently serves as an associate justice on the Appellate Division of the state’s Supreme Court.

“[Feinman] is a talented jurist who has dedicated his career to public service and standing up for a fairer and more just New York,” Cuomo said in a statement.

The vacancy was left by Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American woman to serve on the state’s highest court. Abdus-Salaam, 65, was found dead in the Hudson River on April 12. The circumstances surrounding her death remain a mystery. Though NYPD closed their investigation, friends and loved ones are still waiting to hear the medical examiner’s conclusion regarding her cause of death.

Feinman, a graduate of Columbia University and University of Minnesota Law School, is a member of the Richard C. Failla LGBT Commission, and was the president of the International Association of LGBT Judges from 2008-2011.