Ralph Gants has been installed as the new chief justice of the highest court in Massachusetts.

Gants was sworn in by Gov. Deval Patrick Monday as the 37th chief justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.

Gants has been an associate justice on the SJC since 2009. Before that, he served as a Superior Court judge.

During a swearing-in ceremony attended by several hundred people, Gants said the court is "unmatched in its open-mindedness." The court's historic ruling in 2003 made Massachusetts the first state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

Gants succeeds Justice Roderick Ireland, who retired recently after 17 years on the high court, including the last four as chief justice.

State Appeals Court Judge Geraldine Hines was confirmed earlier this month as an associate justice.