Martin Jenkins, 67, obtained unanimous confirmation on Tuesday for the California Supreme Court in the United States, becoming the first openly gay member and the fifth black judge in the court’s history, Fox News reports.
Jenkins was confirmed by a three-member court nominations committee after an hour-long hearing, the Los Angeles Times reported. He was praised by the panel for his “brilliant intellect, first-class temperament and boundless humanity”.
Governor Gavin Newsom appointed Jenkins last month to replace Judge Ming Chin, who retired on August 31.
During a press conference last month, Jenkins said his identity as a gay man was “perhaps the biggest challenge of my life”.
Jenkins, a San Francisco native, will become the fifth Democrat nominated in the seven-member court, the Times reported. He served in several jurisdictions, including the Alameda County Municipal Court and the San Francisco 1st District State Court of Appeal, according to the newspaper. Jenkins was also named to the federal bench in 1998 by President Bill Clinton.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Jenkins to the state Courts of Appeal in 2008.
“His colleagues referred to him affectionately, as I did, as James Brown of the judiciary”, former retired federal colleague District Judge Thelton Henderson told Courthouse News.
“Singer James Brown was known as the man who worked the most in showbiz. And Marty, we feel, was certainly the man who worked the most at our court. “
Jenkins retired from the intermediate appeals court in 2019 and served as Newsom’s court nominations clerk. When Chin retired, Newsom decided to appoint Jenkins. He told the Judicial Appointments Commission that it took almost four days to accept the offer.
“At the end of the day, being a man of faith, I felt that this was a calling”, Jenkins told the Times.