Mass. SC nominee says being gay won't influence opinions

By Jessica M. Karmasek | Apr 28, 2011


BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Appeals Court Justice Barbara Lenk, the first openly gay nominee to the state Supreme Court, says her sexual preference will not influence her opinions as a justice on the high court.

"Every person who wears a judicial robe has had life experiences that leave their mark," Lenk told an eight-member Governor's Council Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. The council has the final say on her nomination to Court.

"Mine have been rich and varied, bridging many divides, and these experiences allow me to see things from many perspectives. As a judge, my only allegiance is to the rule of law and to the fair and equal treatment of all litigants," she said.

On April 4, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced the nomination of Lenk to serve as an associate justice of the Supreme Court.

Lenk, the senior Associate Justice on the Appeals Court and a former Superior Court judge, is slated to fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Judith A. Cowin.

"I am honored to nominate Justice Lenk to the Supreme Judicial Court," Patrick said in a statement at the time. "She is a brilliant and thoughtful jurist, with a deep sense of justice. Justice Lenk will continue to make extraordinary contributions to the Commonwealth and our judicial system as a member of our highest court."

Lenk has served the Commonwealth as a member of the judiciary for more than 17 years, beginning with her 1993 appointment to the Superior Court. She joined the Appeals Court as an associate justice in 1995. From 1979 to 1993, Lenk was a civil litigator at the Boston firm of Brown Rudnick Freed & Gesmer, where she was a partner and member of the executive committee for six years.

According to the Governor's Office, she has been a leader in many professional and community activities, including serving as co-president of the Boston Inn of Court, chair of the Massachusetts Appeals Court Personnel Committee and a member of several other court management committees. She is a member of the Board of Trustees and chair of the Academic Affairs Committee at Western New England College. She is currently the vice president for adult education and member of the Board of Directors for Congregation Kerem Shalom in Concord. She also is a frequent lecturer and panelist on legal matters, and is a former chair of the Board of Editors of the Boston Bar Journal.

Lenk, a resident of Carlisle, Mass., received her bachelor's from Fordham University in 1972, received a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1978 and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1979.

Lenk is Patrick's fifth nomination to the state Supreme Court, following the nominations of Justice Margot G. Botsford in 2007, Justice Ralph D. Gants in 2008, Chief Justice Roderick L. Ireland in 2010 and Justice Fernande R. V. Duffly, also in 2010.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at

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