On October 28, 2020, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced the nomination of Associate Justice Kimberly S. Budd as the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s chief justice. If confirmed, Budd would replace Ralph D. Gants, who died on September 14, 2020. Budd would also be the first Black woman to serve as chief justice in the court’s history.
The chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is appointed by the governor with council approval, serving until they reach 70 years old, the age of mandatory retirement. If confirmed, Budd would reach the mandatory retirement age in October 2036.
Budd joined the court as an associate justice in 2016. She was nominated to the court by Gov. Baker and confirmed by the Governor’s Council. Budd was an associate justice for the Superior Court in Massachusetts from 2009 to 2016.
Budd earned an undergraduate degree from Georgetown University in 1988. She earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1991.
There are currently two vacancies on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The second vacancy will be triggered by the upcoming retirement of Associate Justice Barbara Lenk, who will reach the mandatory retirement age in December 2020.
In 2020, there have been 22 supreme court vacancies in 16 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. One vacancy occurred when a chief justice died, and 21 vacancies were caused by retirements.