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With Unanimous Vote, Kimberly Budd Makes History As Chief Justice Of Mass. High Court

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Kimberly Budd takes a witness oath before answering questions from Governor's Council members at a confirmation hearing on Nov. 12.
Sam Doran
/
State House News Service
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Kimberly Budd takes a witness oath before answering questions from Governor's Council members at a confirmation hearing on Nov. 12.

Kimberly Budd will become the next chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court after she was unanimously confirmed by the Governor's Council on Wednesday.

Budd succeeds the late Chief Justice Ralph Gants, and becomes the first Black woman to lead the state's highest court.

Budd, 54, has been a member of the judiciary for 11 years. She was first appointed to the Superior Court in 2009 by then Gov. Deval Patrick, and Gov. Charlie Baker elevated her to the Supreme Judicial Court in 2016.

"She has all the attributes," Councilor Marilyn Devaney said after making the motion to confirm Budd as chief justice. "She is compassionate. She has empathy. She has all the qualifications and she has the demeanor and temperament that we need in that position. I wish her all good luck and happiness in that position."

The council voted 7-0 to confirm Budd, taking a break from the ongoing confirmation hearing for one of Baker's other picks to join the Supreme Judicial Court — Appeals Court Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt.

Councilor Eileen Duff read a letter of support before the vote by a member of the Peabody School Committee about the impact Budd had on students when she came to speak to her alma mater.

Councilor Mary Hurley also spoke with pride about the Budd family's roots in Springfield, where her grandfather was the first Black police officer. Budd's father is former U.S. Attorney Wayne Budd.

"Each generation has shown how powerful a work ethic and family that has the right attitude can be," Hurley said. "Captain Joe Budd was the first Black superior office in Springfield. Wayne Budd had a carer that was stellar and now Kimberly has surpassed him and I'm just very proud as a citizen of Springfield to say that."

Budd is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School.

Budd's confirmation comes a day after Serge Georges Jr. was announced as a nominee to the SJC.

Georges is also poised to make history, possibly joining only a handful of district court judges in Massachusetts ever elevated to the state's highest court in its lengthy history. Depending on the confirmation timeline, Georges could be the seventh and final sitting member of the court appointed by Baker, giving the governor a potentially unprecedented clean sweep of the entire panel. 

Georges would also recast the balance of representation on the SJC. As the son of Haitian immigrants, he could become the court's third non-white justice alongside Budd and Wendlandt.

If Georges and Wendlandt are both confirmed, the SJC would feature four men and three women.

This report includes information from Chris Lisinski of State House News Service.

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