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In 2003, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall wrote: "The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens."
With those words, written in a 4-3 ruling that legalized same-sex marriage in Massachusetts, Marshall reshaped the American legal landscape. On Wednesday, Marshall announced that she will step down from the bench by the end of October.
She does so at the age of 66, four years before justices are required to step down at age 70. But she made the decision, she said, in order to be with her husband, Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times Columnist, Anthony Lewis who was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
"Tony and I are both at an age where we have learned to value — value deeply — the precious gift of time," she said. "I will relenquish my role as chief justice in order that, without distraction, Tony and I may enjoy our final seasons together."
Marshall was appointed to the Supreme Judicial Court in 1996 as an associate justice by former governor William Weld. His successor, Paul Cellucci elevated Marshall to chief justice in 1999.
Marshall was the first female chief justice in Massachusetts. A native of South Africa, she was also the court's first immigrant chief justice. As for the Massachusetts Constitution that guided her, and the lawyers who argued before her, Marshall said, "Perhaps its because I grew up in a country with no system of justice that I feel so passionate about it."
We explore Margaret Marshall's legal legacy with David Frank of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
- David Frank, senior news reporter, Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly
- Copy of 2003 Supreme Judicial Court majority decision in gay marriage case, Goodrich vs. Department of Public Health
This program aired on July 21, 2010.
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