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Kimberly Budd tapped to head SJC

Will be first black woman to lead court

Morgan C. Mullings
Staff reporter covering state and local politics. Report for America Corps Member. VIEW BIO
Kimberly Budd tapped to head SJC
Kimberly Budd. PHOTO: Joshua Qualls, Governor’s Press Office

Following the passing of Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants in September, Governor Charlie Baker has announced his nomination of Kimberly S. Budd to lead the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. If confirmed, she would be the first Black woman to become chief justice.

Budd, whose father is former U.S. Attorney Wayne Budd, was appointed by Governor Baker to the Supreme Judicial Court in 2016, after a long career in Massachusetts courts. Her legal career began in the Massachusetts Appeals Court, where she was a law clerk for Chief Justice Joseph P. Warner. The Governor’s Council will meet to vote on her nomination in their assembly on Nov. 12 at 10 a.m.

“I’d like to thank the governor, and the lieutenant governor, for putting their faith in me,” Budd said at a press conference on Oct. 28. “This opportunity is unquestionably bittersweet. If confirmed, I promise that I will give my very best effort, as the chief of the oldest, continuously-running appellate court in the Western Hemisphere.”

Budd’s nomination has been met with widespread support from judges, attorneys, and legislators in Massachusetts. Former justice Geraldine Hines, who has known Budd throughout her career and worked alongside her in 2016, praised her commitment to justice.

“I wouldn’t want to see it lost that she is supremely qualified for this position … She’s young and energetic, she’s a visionary,” Hines told the Banner. “We’re all proud of the history making moment, but I think beyond that, people should feel very confident that the court is in good hands,” she said.

Kimberly Budd. PHOTO: Joshua Qualls, Governor’s Press Office

Kimberly Budd. PHOTO: Joshua Qualls, Governor’s Press Office

Hines pointed out that the governor’s nomination creates a stark contrast between the State House and the White House after the appointment of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court.

She describes Budd and Barrett as stark opposites.

“[Budd is] Somebody who is committed to protecting rights, and [Barrett is] somebody who is apparently committed to undoing the very difficult and hard work that has been done over decades to secure rights,” Hines said.

Budd is well known for an opinion affecting jury duty. In the decision of Commonwealth v. Lawrence Heywood, she wrote that a blind juror was properly allowed to serve on a jury despite not being able to view evidence. The landmark decision against discrimination demonstrated that people with disabilities are still considered “peers” in the courtroom.

“The decision to appoint Kimberly Budd to be the next Chief Justice of our Supreme Judicial Court is a historic one,” Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said in a statement. She called Budd a “worthy successor to our late Chief Justice Ralph Gants.”

“Make no mistake, representation in government matters—and our judiciary is no exception. In this moment of national reckoning on racial injustice, we must continue working to increase diverse representation in our court system. This will move us closer to the promise of equal justice for all. Governor Baker has the opportunity to continue diversifying the SJC with his next two appointments, and I urge him to do just that,” Pressley said.

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