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Document Type

Symposium Article

Abstract

In this Essay in remembrance, Professors Larisa G. Bowman, Esme Caramello, and Nicole Summers grieve the loss of Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants: a past, present, and future champion for housing justice. Housing as an area of unmet civil legal need occupied his final thoughts; he called it “the greatest access to justice challenge of our lifetime.” This Essay charts Chief Justice Gants’s evolution in becoming a champion for housing justice. Part I discusses his early housing-related judicial opinions as well as the exposure to housing issues he gained as Co-Chair of the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission. Part II covers his time as the Chief Justice, reviewing some of his seminal opinions related to housing issues and his advocacy for broad changes across the entire Massachusetts court system, such as expansion of the Housing Court, that would increase access to justice for low-income litigants. Finally, in Part III, this Essay ends with Chief Justice Gants’s leadership during the COVID-19 crisis. He paid close attention and threw his full weight behind the cause because he believed that the legal system, with reform and ingenuity, could deliver justice in housing.

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