Martin Jenkins confirmed as California’s first openly gay Supreme Court justice

Martin Jenkins is the third African American man to ever serve on the court

Not only is Martin Jenkins the first African American man to serve on the highest court in California in almost three decades, but he is also the first openly gay California Supreme Court justice as well. Jenkins made history with his appointment which was approved after a unanimous vote in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Jenkins, 66, will officially be known as Associate Justice Martin J. Jenkins and is only the third African American man to ever serve on the court.

Martin Jenkins
Justice Martin Jenkins (Credit: handout)

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“His compassion, humility, lifelong commitment to public service, and passion for justice make him a most deserving and worthy addition to the state’s highest court,” said a report from the Commission on Judicial Nominees Evaluation.

In October, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, nominated Jenkins to fill Justice Ming Chin’s position. Chin retired in August.

“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,” Governor Newsom said in a statement.

Jenkins has worked in the legal profession for years, with jobs in government and out. Jenkins served as an associate justice of the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District from 2008 to 2019. His latest position was with Newsom as the Senior Judicial Appointments Secretary.

“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,” continued Newsom.

Martin Jenkins
Justice Martin Jenkins (Credit: Courthouse News)

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Jenkins earned his Associates Degree for City College of San Francisco in 1973. He then completed his Bachelors at Santa Clara University where he was a football scholarship. 

Jenkins played for the Seattle Seahawks for a short while before attending University of San Francisco School of Law, where he graduated with his JD in 1980. 

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