With unanimous vote, Budd makes history as SJC chief

Sam Doran/SHNS photoJustice Kimberly Budd takes a witness oath before answering questions from Governor's Council members at a confirmation hearing Nov. 12.

BOSTON — Kimberly Budd will become the next chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court. 

Budd was unanimously confirmed by the Governor's Council on Wednesday to succeed the late Chief Justice Ralph Gants and become 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.

A former Peabody resident, Budd attended Peabody Veterans Memorial High School as a member of the Class of 1984. She transferred to a new school for her senior year after her family moved to Atlanta.

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. 

In a statement Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker congratulated Budd.

“Justice Kimberly Budd is an exceptional and dignified jurist that has served on the Supreme Judicial Court with fairness and integrity and I have the utmost confidence that she will now lead the Commonwealth’s highest court and all those that come before it with grace and impartiality,” Baker said. “I am honored to congratulate Justice Budd on her unanimous confirmation, and am grateful to the members of the Governor’s Council for their diligence in considering and approving her appointment.”



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