Margaret H. Marshall

Margaret H. Marshall
Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
In office
October 14, 1999  December 19, 2010
Appointed by Paul Cellucci
Preceded by Herbert Wilkins
Succeeded by Roderick Ireland
Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
In office
October 31, 1996  October 14, 1999
Appointed by William Weld
Preceded by Herbert Wilkins
Succeeded by Judith Cowin
Personal details
Born Margaret Hilary Marshall
(1944-09-01) September 1, 1944
Newcastle, South Africa
Spouse(s) Anthony Lewis (1984-2013; his death)
Alma mater University of the Witwatersrand
Harvard University
Yale University

Margaret Hilary Marshall (born September 1, 1944) was the 24th chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, and the first woman to hold that position. She was chief justice from 1999 to 2010. On July 21, 2010, she announced her retirement.[1] She is currently a Senior Fellow of the Yale Corporation,[2] Senior Counsel at Choate Hall & Stewart, and a member of the Council of the American Law Institute.

Early life

Marshall was born in Newcastle, South Africa, where she led a student organization for three years called the National Union of South African Students (NUSAS), which was dedicated to ending oppressive minority rule and achieving equality for all South Africans. According to Marshall, "There was no access to justice in South Africa...There were a few courageous barristers who agreed to represent people charged with political crimes, but, by and large, if you were a black South African, you had no justice. The death penalty was imposed in vastly disproportionate numbers. Many of the offenses were applicable to black South Africans only.".[3] In June 1966, as NUSAS's vice president, she welcomed U.S. Senator Robert Kennedy to South Africa, in place of Union President Ian Robertson, who had been banned from political appearances.[4] Marshall emigrated to the United States to escape political persecution. She earned a master's degree in education from Harvard in 1969, and a law degree from Yale in 1976. She acquired United States citizenship in 1978.[5]

In 1984, she married then-New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis.[6] Her husband died in 2013.

From 1976 to 1989, she was an associate and a partner in private practice at the Boston law firm of Csaplar & Bok. From 1989 to 1992, she was a partner in the Boston law firm of Choate, Hall & Stewart. Also from 1991 to 1992, she was president of the Boston Bar Association, the oldest bar association in the United States. From 1992-1996, she was general counsel to Harvard University.

Marshall was appointed to be an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1996 by Republican Governor William F. Weld. She was named as chief justice in September 1999 by Republican Governor Paul Cellucci, to begin her term on October 14, 1999. She is the second woman to serve on the Supreme Judicial Court, the oldest appellate court in the Western Hemisphere, and the first to serve as chief justice in its more than 300-year history.

In the course of her term, she wrote more than 200 opinions. Marshall wrote the decision in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that declared that the Massachusetts constitution does not permit the state to deny citizens the right to same-sex marriage.

On July 21, 2010, Marshall announced her decision to retire from the court, effective at the end of October. Marshall said her decision was prompted by a desire to spend more time with her husband Anthony Lewis, who was suffering from Parkinson's disease.[7]

Marshall serves as the senior fellow of the Yale Corporation, the governing body of Yale University. She is the first woman to hold the position, and previously served a term as a Corporation fellow from 2004 to 2010.[8]


  1. Marshall, Margaret H. (21 July 2010). "Statement of Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall" (PDF) (Press release). Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  2. Jurist Margaret H. Marshall named Senior Fellow of Yale Corporation - Yale News, April 3, 2013
  4. Tye, Larry (5 July 2016). Bobby Kennedy: The Making of a Liberal Icon. Random House Publishing Group. pp. 371–373. ISBN 9780679645207.
  5. Harvard, Law School. "faculty". Harvard University. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
  6. "Margaret H. Marshall, a Law Partner, Is Wed to Anthony Lewis, a Columnist". The New York Times. 24 September 1984. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  7. Ellement, John (21 July 2010). "Margaret Marshall, author of Mass. gay marriage decision, to retire". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 17 October 2013.
  8. "Jurist Margaret H. Marshall named Senior Fellow of Yale Corporation". Yale News. Yale University. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 17 October 2013.

Legal offices
Preceded by
Herbert Wilkins
Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Succeeded by
Francis X. Spina
Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
Succeeded by
Roderick Ireland
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