Over eight years, former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick effectively reshaped the state’s judiciary and its very top rung, appointing five new Supreme Judicial Court justices, many of them groundbreaking picks.
Now, Governor Charlie Baker is poised to surpass every governor in nearly five decades as he prepares to nominate a justice, his sixth nomination, when Justice Barbara A. Lenk retires on August 17.
The Governor’s latest pick comes while an intensifying debate over social justice and how to address systemic racism is coursing through the country, and in Massachusetts is fueling calls from nearly a dozen legal groups for Baker to “meet the challenge of this moment.”
“We are cognizant in the legal profession that we must focus on diversity and inclusion, especially in the private sector. But we can’t forget about the public sector,” said Stesha A. Emmanuel Laborde, president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association and an attorney at McCarter & English. “Diversity cannot be reflected just as the entry. It must be at the top.”
Over its 328-year history, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has had just three Black justices, 10 women, and no Latinos.