SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom has nominated the first openly gay Black man to the state Supreme Court. Newsom nominated Martin Jenkins to the court on Monday.
The 66-year-old would be the third Black person to serve on the court if he is confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments. Jenkins would replace Justice Ming W. Chin, who retired at the end of August.
Jenkins is a former federal civil rights attorney who prosecuted cross burnings and police misconduct cases under President Ronald Reagan. He was appointed by Republicans and Democrats to four different judgeships.
A son of San Francisco, the governor’s office says Jenkins was born and raised in the Bay Area. He grew up cleaning office buildings and churches with his father, who also worked a full-time job with the City and County of San Francisco as a clerk and janitor at Coit Tower.
Jenkins went on to have a storied legal career, including years as a civil rights attorney, an appointment to a federal bench and most recently, guiding the Newsom administration’s efforts to build a judiciary that reflects the vibrancy and diversity of California as judicial appointments secretary since 2019.
Prior to his role in the Newsom Administration, Jenkins served as an Associate Justice on the California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District from 2008 to 2019. He was appointed by President Bill Clinton to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in 1997 and served on the bench until 2008.