District Court Judge Rick E. Lawrence speaks to the press following his nomination hearing on Friday. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The Maine Senate unanimously voted on Tuesday to confirm the first Black justice to the state’s highest court.

A legislative panel voted last week to confirm Rick E. Lawrence to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The Senate then issued its confirmation on Tuesday.

“I am deeply honored by the opportunity to serve on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, an appointment that comes with formidable responsibility and unparalleled opportunity to serve the people of our great state,” Lawrence said after the confirmation vote. “I promise to work tirelessly to serve the people of Maine and to administer justice fairly and impartially to the people of Maine, just as they deserve.”

Lawrence, 66, of Portland became Maine’s first Black judge when he became a district judge in 2000, the Portland Press Herald reported. He currently serves as the deputy chief judge of the District Court.

Lawrence is on tap to replace Justice Ellen Gorman, who has announced her intent to retire. Gorman has served on the court since 2007.

Gov. Janet Mills said Tuesday that she was honored to have made the “historic nomination.”

“I am proud that lawmakers have recognized Judge Lawrence’s extensive legal experience, measured temperament, strong intellect, and proven commitment to upholding the law and administering justice impartially,” she said. “He will be an exceptional Justice on the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.”

The confirmation of Lawrence comes a week after the U.S. Senate confirmed Ketanji Brown Jackson to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she will serve as the first Black female justice.

BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report.