SJC chief justice denies political cast Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall delivered the commencement address at Brandeis University in May. (Globe Staff Photo / John Bohn) By Jonathan Saltzman, Globe Staff | December 3, 2005 The chief justice of the state Supreme Judicial Court yesterday apologized for a joke she made at the beginning of her commencement speech at Brandeis University in May, when she quipped to spectators gathered beneath blue and white balloons, ''No red states here.The remark by Chief Justice Margaret H. Marshall, who wrote the court's landmark 2003 decision allowing same-sex marriage triggered a confidential complaint to the Commission on Judicial Conduct. The commission released an extraordinary statement yesterday from the state's top jurist, who said she regretted making what might have been construed as a political statement. ''The comment was an unconsidered, spontaneous attempt to connect with the exuberant, celebratory feeling in the audience, reflecting the balloons I had seen," Marshall said. ''The reference to 'red states' was not part of my written, prepared speech. I regret the comment, and I apologize for it. I did not intend to say anything of a political nature." The commission said Marshall's statement resolved the complaint filed after the graduation. The panel did not identify who filed the complaint or give any details. Commission proceedings are confidential unless they result in formal charges. Marshall's predecessor as chief justice, Herbert P. Wilkins, who served on the court from 1972 to 1999, said it was the first complaint about an SJC justice he could recall being made public. The state Code of Judicial Conduct specifies that a ''judge shall refrain from political activity." It also warns judges not to say anything outside the courtroom that might cast doubt on their impartiality, including ''jokes or other remarks made in a public setting. Marshall, who has drawn fire from conservatives across the country since the same-sex marriage decision, used her commencement speech to decry attacks on judicial independence. She also said the suggestion that court decisions should conform to public opinion are threatening public trust in the judicial system, a cornerstone of democracy. But it was Marshall's throwaway line before she began delivering her written speech that led to yesterday's apology. She made the joke as a crowd of 7,000 gathered under hundreds of balloons of blue and white -- Brandeis's colors -- resting in nets under the rafters of the ceiling of the Gosman Sports Center. Dennis Nealon, a Brandeis spokesman who heard Marshall's speech, said he only learned about the complaint Thursday. Everyone he spoke to the day of the speech, he said, considered Marshall's remark a humorous aside. ''I heard nothing about anybody being offended," he said. Through a court spokeswoman, Marshall yesterday declined to discuss the remark or her apology. In her statement, however, she said, ''The comment did not reflect what I had intended. I regretted the comment as soon as I said it, and that has never waned Liar, Liar pant's on fire....The only thing she's sorry for is being caught.... typical democrat, liberal line of BS. http://www.boston.com/news/local/ma...2/03/marshall_apologizes_for_red_states_quip/ She needs to be taken off the bench??