Massachusetts Governor Nominates Former Romantic Partner to State's Highest Court
Steve LeBlanc READ TIME: 3 MIN.
Gov. Maura Healey on Wednesday nominated an appeals court judge and former romantic partner with whom she shared a home for several years to an open seat on the state's highest court.
Massachusetts Appeals Court Associate Justice Gabrielle R. Wolohojian would serve as an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court if her nomination is approved. Wolohojian is the second nomination to the state's highest court by Healey, the first woman and first open member of the LGBTQ community to be elected governor of Massachusetts.
"There is no one more qualified or more well prepared to join the SJC than Justice Wolohojian. I'm proud of that nomination and I'm proud of nominating someone who is so deserving and so qualified. It is what the commonwealth deserves," Healey told reporters.
"Of course, I had a personal relationship with Judge Wolohojian for many years so I happen to also know something about her character and her integrity and the kind of person she is," Healey, a Democrat, added.
Healey said Wolohojian received the unanimous recommendation of the state's Supreme Judicial Nominating Commission – a five-member board appointed by the governor.
Healey wouldn't say if there were any other individuals recommended for the vacancy.
"There is no one more qualified. I am very comfortable in saying that," Healey said. "I don't want the fact that she had a personal relationship with me to deprive the commonwealth of a person who's most qualified for the position."
Healey said she didn't think Wolohojian would have to recuse herself from cases involving the administration, saying she currently presides over matters involving state agencies and the executive office.
Amy Carnevale, chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party called on Healey to withdraw Wolohojian's name.
"It is highly inappropriate for the governor to nominate to Massachusetts' highest court an individual with whom she had a long-term romantic relationship in the past. This nomination clearly demonstrates a lack of accountability inherent in one-party rule," Carnevale said in a statement.
Wolohojian, 63, would fill the seat vacated by Justice David Lowy. Last year Healey nominated then-state solicitor Elizabeth Dewar to the high court.
Wolohojian was appointed to the Appeals Court in February 2008 and has authored more than 900 decisions, according to Healey's office. She has also served as the chair of the Supreme Judicial Court's Advisory Committee on the Rules of Appellate Procedure.
Healey and Wolohojian, who met when they both worked at the Boston law firm of Hale & Dorr, had been together for eight years when Healey began her first term as attorney general in 2015, according to a Boston Magazine profile.
Wolohojian and Healey had lived together in a rowhouse in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston that also served as a campaign headquarters for Healey. Wolohojian did not play a public role in the campaign. The governor now lives with her current partner, Joanna Lydgate, in Arlington.
Healey's office did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment from the governor but said she would address reporters later Wednesday.
Wolohojian must go before the eight-member Governor's Council charged with reviewing and approving judicial nominations.
The Supreme Judicial Court is Massachusetts's highest appellate court. The seven justices hear appeals on a range of criminal and civil cases.
Born in New York, and the granddaughter of Armenian immigrants, Justice Wolohojian received a bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, from Rutgers University in 1982; a doctorate in English language and literature from the University of Oxford in 1987; and a Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School in 1989, where she was editor of the Columbia Law Review.
Healey's office also described Wolohojian as an accomplished violinist, who regularly performs with orchestras, including the Boston Civic Symphony orchestra.
This story has been correct to show the body approving the recommendation was the five-member Supreme Judicial Nominating Commission, not the state's 27-member Judicial Nominating Commission.