Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Margaret Marshall, CJ of Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Announces Retirement

Best known as the author of Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the 2003 case that declared the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage unconstitutional as a matter of state law, Margaret Marshall, 66, announced her retirement today.  


The press release from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court with further biographical information and a list of notable opinions is here. (The Boston Globe) has an extensive story.  Here's Justice Marshall on "judicial activism," an accusation that was levied at her and the court for the Goodridge decision:

Asked at today's news conference how she felt about critics who say that judges engage in judicial activism, she said, "It is a buzzword and I think it's often attached to opinions where the person who's making the claim ... doesn't agree with the outcome," she said.

In her statement, she expresses her judicial theory this way:

Our system of justice is organic. Every dispute, every case, tests the law anew. No judge, whether deciding in 1692 if men and women should be condemned as witches, or deciding in 1783 if slavery could still be tolerated in Massachusetts under our then sparkling new Constitution, or today, no judge has been able to leave this Court believing that the task of justice is done. I am no different.

The Justice's statement, the Boston Globe story, and the press release all mention the effect that coming of age in South Africa during its Apartheid era had on Justice Marshall's notions of the law.


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