In his first act of office after being re-elected to a second term, Deval Patrick, the first black governor of Massachusetts, has nominated Roderick L. Ireland to be the first African-American chief justice of the state's Supreme Judicial Court. "My nomination says that anything is possible," said the 65-year-old Ireland, who had already made history "when he was appointed the first black associate justice on the court in 1997."
Ireland is described as having the court's "strongest" record on gay rights, reports MassLive.
Ireland was with the majority when the state Supreme Judicial Court in a 4-3 landmark decision legalized gay marriage in 2003. Of all the court members, Ireland may be the strongest on gay rights. In 2006, he broke with other members on the SJC when it upheld former Gov. W. Mitt Romney’s use of a 1913 law to ban same-sex couples from other states from marrying in Massachusetts.
Under the 1913 law, Romney had said, nonresidents could not marry here if their union would be banned in their home state and they have no intention of moving to Massachusetts.
As the lone dissenter in the ruling, Ireland said that it was “fundamentally unfair” for the state to resurrect and selectively enforce “a moribund statute” that was dormant for almost a century. Critics said the 1913 law was originally enacted to block interracial marriages. Patrick and state legislators in 2008 repealed the old law.
Former Republican Gov. William F. Weld appointed Ireland as the first black associate justice on the court in 1997. Ireland is the only black to serve on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in its 318-year history.
Ireland is expected to be confirmed later this year after an interview and approval by the Governor's Council.
Totally loving the fact that in one of the states with the smallest Black populations, the Black governor and new chief justice are leading the nation on equality.