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Rush robing completes Supreme Court transition

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Justice Loretta Rush formally was robed the 108th justice of the Indiana Supreme Court on Friday, the third member of the five-member court appointed by Gov. Mitch Daniels.

Rush, formerly a Tippecanoe Superior judge who oversaw juvenile court in Lafayette, thanked her family, friends and Daniels, who appointed her the second woman to serve on the court.

“You have left an indelible mark on the state Supreme Court,” Rush remarked to Daniels, noting the qualities she had recognized since joining the court last month in his prior choices, justices Steven David and Mark Massa. “The jury’s still out on me,” Rush quipped.

Rush’s four children, Jacob, Mary, Sarah and Luke, took part in her robing ceremony before about 200 people in the Indiana Supreme Court courtroom. Another 100 people watched the ceremony on a video feed inside the Indiana Senate chamber.

“This would be a very good day to rob a bank in Lafayette,” Daniels joked. “Nobody’s home.”

But the governor said few decisions are taken as seriously as the appointment of a justice whose mark will be left on the laws of the state for years to come. “No decision I’ve had to make in this category was easier," Daniels said.

“I’m just so proud to be associated with this particular nomination,” he said.

“I owe a debt of gratitude to our entire community,” Rush said. “You hoisted me on your shoulders and brought me here.”

She noted that she kept photos of the children who appeared in her court beneath the glass top of her desk, and those photos have traveled with her to her statehouse chambers.

“Little did I know it was those children who were preparing me for today,” she said.

Daniels had felt pressure to select a woman during each of the three vacancies that occurred with the departures of Justice Ted Boehm, Chief Justice Randall Shepard and Justice Frank Sullivan. Indiana had been one of only three states whose supreme courts lacked a female justice.

“I look forward to the day a woman’s appointment to the court is unremarkable,” Rush said.

The first woman justice, Myra Selby, who served from 1995-1999, said she had gotten to know Rush since she joined the court, and noted that she even recognized some of her old furniture in the new justice’s chambers.

Selby noted that during Rush’s interviews before the Judicial Nominating Commission, “Justice Rush said she thought one of the ways the judiciary could improve was to increase its transparency.

“She will bring that through her unique voice,” Selby said.

Chief Justice Brent Dickson, who worked in private practice in Lafayette prior to his appointment to the bench, said Rush’s appointment “marks the completion of a massive transformation of the Indiana Supreme Court.” He praised Rush for her intellect, determination and respect for judicial precedent and restraint.

The three justices who joined the court in the last two years brought an end to the court’s most prolonged period of continuity in its history, Daniels noted. During that time, the court gained the admiration of court watchers around the country, he said.

“I hope it doesn’t diminish the occasion to say it reminds me a lot of our local football team,” he said, referencing the recent successful rebuilding of the Indianapolis Colts.

Along with Selby, former justices Boehm, Shepard and Sullivan attended Friday’s ceremony, as did her Supreme Court colleagues and members of the Indiana Tax Court and Indiana Court of Appeals.

Rush also paid tribute to her family, noting that when she was asked during the vetting process about her greatest accomplishment, she responded, “raising kind children. You are kind children,” she said.

She also noted that her robing also marked another special day, her son Jacob’s 11th birthday. “At 1 o’clock today, it’s all about you,” she told him during her remarks.
 

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  2. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  3. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  4. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

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