Appeals Court Judge Barbara A. Lenk has won confirmation by the Governor’s Council to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court after a 5-3 vote, and becomes the first openly gay judge to serve on the state’s highest court.
Lenk’s confirmation comes after a contentious hearing in which critics charged that her appointment to the court would encourage the indoctrination of children into a lifestyle of homosexuality.
She was grilled about her ruling in a same-sex incest appellate case, and about whether she had avoided conflicts of interest when her wife had represented clients in front of the Appeals Court as a lawyer for the Massachusetts public defenders’ office.
Lenk had the full backing of the state’s legal establishment. Bar association leaders, former judges, and Lenk’s former clerks wrote letters to the Governor’s Council, and said critics inappropriately focused on her sexuality and ignored her legal credentials, the Boston Globe reported.
Lenk was nominated by Governor Deval L. Patrick (D), on April 4. Patrick called her “a brilliant and thoughtful jurist, with a deep sense of justice.”
Lenk is a veteran Appeals Court judge with 18 years experience on the bench. She married her partner, Debra Krupp, after the landmark 2003 Massachusetts high court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in the Commonwealth.