Gavin Newsom nominates new Supreme Court justice

Martin Jenkins, who grew up in Ingleside, would be the the first openly gay man and third Black man in this position. (CA.gov)

Martin Jenkins, who grew up in Ingleside, would be the the first openly gay man and third Black man in this position. (CA.gov)

Gov. Gavin Newsom nominated Democrat Martin J. Jenkins for the California Supreme Court, according to a press release from Newsom’s office on Monday.

If confirmed, Jenkins would be the the first openly gay man and third Black man in this position and would replace Justice Ming Chin, who retired back in August. 

Jenkins, 66, is a San Francisco native who grew up in Ingleside. He came out of retirement last year to assist Newsom as the judicial appointments secretary, with the goal of enhancing diversity on the state’s benches. 

“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,” Jenkins said while expressing the honor of being “the first” of anything. “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.”

After graduating from Santa Clara University, and before pursuing his law degree at University of San Francisco, Jenkins played for the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks. According to the California Courts, he has had decades of experience working for the state and federal courts, ranging from prosecutor for the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to the United States Department of Justice as a trial attorney.

Newsom described Jenkins as someone of fortitude and fairness during the livestream. 

“The people of California could not ask for a better jurist or kinder person to take on this important responsibility,” Newsom said. 

Before he is officially appointed as a California Supreme Court Justice, Jenkins must be confirmed by the Commission on Judicial Appointments, which includes Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the most senior presiding judge of the Court of Appeal.