California Governor Gavin Newsom announced he has nominated Martin J. Jenkins as the first openly gay and third Black man to serve as a justice on the California Supreme Court.
Jenkins, the 66 year old Bay Area native, has worked in California’s state and federal courts as well as the region’s criminal justice system for decades.
Jenkins’ nomination comes as Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell attempt to place a new U.S. Supreme Court justice on the bench before the November 3 election. Trump’s nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, faces fierce opposition from Democrats, many of whom fear who she might rule on Roe v. Wade and other culturally divisive issues.
In a statement Governor Newsom said, “It has been 29 years since an African American man has served on the California Supreme Court. Justice Jenkins is widely respected among lawyers and jurists, active in his Oakland community and his faith, and is a decent man to his core…As a critical member of my senior leadership team, I’ve seen firsthand that Justice Jenkins possesses brilliance and humility in equal measure. The people of California could not ask for a better jurist or kinder person to take on this important responsibility.”
In response to the nomination Jenkins stated, “Anyone who knows me knows my identity has been as a gay man, perhaps the greatest challenge of my life.” He added, “It has not been easy. But I want to say to those young people today who may be watching…that I am not here in spite of the struggle. I am here because of the struggle. It is deep in my character, afforded me sensibilities about the world and people who are not so willing to accept that people are able to love differently than they do.”