Harvard Recognizes Chief Justice Margaret Marshall with Honorary Degree

Chief Justice Margaret Marshall received an honorary degree (Doctor of Laws) from Harvard University during its Class of 2021 graduation ceremony. Each graduation ceremony, Harvard awards honorary degrees to one or more outstanding individuals in either law, art, education, or science.

From the Harvard Gazette:

Margaret Hilary Marshall is former chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, the first woman to serve in that role in the 328-year history of Massachusetts’ highest court. During her 11-year tenure as chief justice, she earned esteem as a champion for an independent judiciary, an advocate of equal access to justice, and a leader in promoting administrative reforms within the judicial branch. She led the SJC in issuing a wide range of important opinions, including her majority opinion in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, which in 2003 made Massachusetts the first state in the nation to recognize a constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry.

A native of South Africa, Marshall received her bachelor’s degree from Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, where she was an anti-apartheid activist and served as president of the National Union of South African Students. After moving to the United States, she received her Ed.M. from Harvard and her J.D. from Yale before entering the practice of law. She rose to become partner at the Boston law firm Choate, Hall & Stewart, as well as president of the Boston Bar Association, before serving from 1992 to 1996 as Harvard’s vice president and general counsel. She became an associate justice of the Supreme Judicial Court in 1996 and served as chief justice from 1999 until 2010. She is past president of the United States Conference of the Chief Justices, former senior fellow of the Yale Corporation, and now senior counsel at Choate, Hall & Stewart.

Among her many honors are the American Bar Association’s Pursuit of Justice Award, the Massachusetts Bar Association’s Chief Justice Edward F. Hennessey Award for outstanding leadership in the administration of justice, the Boston Bar Association Award for Judicial Excellence, and the 2021 Bolch Prize for the Rule of Law.

To read the profiles of each honorary degree recipient featured in the Harvard Gazette, please click here.