ALBANY, N.Y. —  Judge Paul Feinman took the oath of office Wednesday to become the newest member of the state's highest court, making him the first openly gay judge to sit on the bench of the Court of the Appeals.

Nominated by Governor Andrew Cuomo this spring and confirmed by the state Senate, Feinman said he understand the obligation he has for those who follow him thanks to those who broke down barriers, including his late brother.

“It was all of them who forged a path before me and without them this day would not have been possible,” Feinman said from the bench.  

Feinman's spot on the court was made vacant when in April Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam was found dead in what police believe was a suicide.

Feinman is joining the court amid a lot of tumult in politics and government, a time Cuomo administration counsel Alphonso David says is one in which people will look to the law for clarity.

“Attacks on the other and long suppressed fears have risen to the surface,” Davis said. “Nevertheless, we must remain confident our future holds great opportunity.”  

With Feinman on the court, the Court of Appeals is now at full strength with seven members. All have been appointed by Cuomo due to either deaths of sitting judges or the court's mandatory retirement age.