roderick-ireland_web.jpgBOSTON (AP) — The Governor’s Council on Wednesday approved the nomination of Roderick Ireland as chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

The panel voted 7-0 to back Gov. Deval Patrick’s nomination of the 65-year-old Ireland. One member of the panel was absent.

Ireland was appointed to the high court in 1997 by former Gov. William Weld. He was the first black justice in the 318-year history of the court and would be its first black chief justice. He replaces Margaret Marshall, who left her office for the final time Tuesday night.

The court gained national attention in 2003 when it voted to make Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage. Ireland was part of the 4-3 majority.

At 65, Ireland can serve as chief justice for just five years before reaching the court’s mandatory retirement age.

Photo: Roderick Ireland