For her part, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, a Weld appointee of a highly liberal bent, possesses a legal education and professional legal experience more suited to an appointee to the Capetown Superior Court in her native South Africa than the the highest state court in Massachusetts.
Nevertheless, Justice Marshall owes her appointment as an Associate Justice (later elevated to Chief Justice by Cellucci) mostly to her personal connections to Gov. Weld through Harvard University, which employed Justice Marshall for many years as its corporate legal counsel and where Gov. Weld has remained an active, influential alumnus. Moreover, if you persuaded Gov. Weld to consume a few amber-colored liquid drinks one night, he probably would freely admit to you that the fact then Harvard corporate counsel Marshall was the wife of prominent New York Times Op-ed columnist, Anthony Lewis, also factored into his appointment-making process. One should recall that at the time of Justice Marshall’s appointment, 1996 and her elevation as Chief Justice in 1999, Gov. Weld possessed Senatorial and national presidential political ambitions that might have been advanced by favorable coverage in The New York Times.
In the case of Governor Patrick, one can confidently predict that he will appoint a decidedly non-controversial, centrist, and corporate-friendly lawyer or sitting judge to the SJC to replace the late Justice Sosman. Given the multitude of personal and political challenges and difficulties, the Governor is already encountering, he will avoid, at all costs, appointing an attorney or jugde with a long, public record supporting progressive causes such as the legal sanctioning of gay marriage or state prison reform. My guess is that Gov. Patrick will appoint a corporate legal pal with Republican party connections such as Wayne Budd or Mark Robinson. Alternatively, Gov. Patrick might select Ralph Martin, former Suffolk County DA, if he wants to insulate himself from criticism by the conservative law and order interest groups. If you are Harvey Silverglate or Willie Davis, two liberal legal titans in Massachusetts, I would refrain from fitting myself for SJC judicial robes.
Finally, the governor should use his plenary appointment power to ignore all recommendations offered by the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC). This quasi-executive body is simply an organization populated by elite, well-connected lawyers who will undoubtedly recycle the same right-wing, corporate, uninspiring lawyers for consideration that the Commission has suggested for the last 16 years. Gov. Patrick, “Together we can….” do better than the judicial recommendations offered by the high-class reactionary legal hacks of the JNC.