V Interesting

Bonus: How State Supreme Courts Defend Our Democracy

Subscribe to Lemonada Premium for Bonus Content

V chats with two retired State Supreme Court chief justices about the role these often-overlooked courts play in defending our democracy. V asks North Carolina’s Cheri Beasley and Ohio’s Maureen O’Connor what exactly state supreme courts do, how you can be a more informed judicial voter, and their thoughts on everything going on at the U.S. Supreme Court.

This discussion was made possible by United for Democracy, a new campaign shining a spotlight on the impact of this Supreme Court on our families, our communities, our freedoms, and our democracy. Find out more at unitedfordemocracy.us.

Follow Chief Justice Beasley online at @CheriBeasleyNC on Twitter and @cheribeasleync on Instagram.

Keep up with V on TikTok at @underthedesknews and on Twitter at @VitusSpehar. And stay up to date with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @LemonadaMedia.

For a list of current sponsors and discount codes for this and every other Lemonada show, go to lemonadamedia.com/sponsors.

Joining Lemonada Premium is a great way to support our show and get bonus content. Subscribe today at bit.ly/lemonadapremium.



Maureen O’Connor, V Spehar, Cheri Beasley

V Spehar  00:08

Hey, friends, I am so excited to be with you today. I mean, I’m excited to be with you every day. But today is a real special one. We’ve got a great conversation all about something that is very important to our democracy, but that many of us don’t spend a ton of time thinking about the state Supreme Courts. We’ve got two incredible guests today. Both our retired State Supreme Court Chief Justices, let me tell you about them. First step we’ve got Chief Justice Sherry Beasley, she is one of only two black women to ever serve on North Carolina Supreme Court, and she was the first black woman to serve as Chief Justice. prior to making rank in the state Supreme Court. She served four years as an associate judge on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. And before that, she was a public defender in Fayetteville. And then we’ve got Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor, who was the first woman in Ohio’s history to be elected Chief Justice and retired at the end of last year after serving over 20 years on the court. She also has the distinction of being the longest serving woman elected to state office in Ohio. Prior to joining the court in 2003. She served for four years as lieutenant governor and the director of the Department of Public Safety for the state of Ohio. I mean, these are two incredibly impressive women. And we’re going to talk with them all about what state Supreme Courts do and the vital role they play in our democracy. Plus, I get to ask them about ethics codes for the US Supreme Court. And if they think the court should be expanded beyond the nine justices that currently has, it’s going to be a great time and I think full of a lot of surprises for you guys. This discussion was made possible by United for democracy, a new campaign shining a spotlight on the impact of this Supreme Court on our families, our communities, our freedoms and our democracy. Find out more at United for democracy.us. Here’s my conversation with Chief Justices Cheri Beasley and Maureen O’Connor. So let’s start with some basics. Justice Beasley one of the many aspects of this conversation I’m excited about is educating people not just on the role of a chief justice, but about State Supreme Courts overall. For the listeners who may not know 95% of all cases in this country are filed in state courts. How would you describe the role of the state Supreme Court in any state?

Cheri Beasley  03:37

Wow, thanks for having us V. I, first of all want people to know that state supreme courts are making decisions about their everyday lives, whether they realize it or not. And so state courts are deeply important to democracy and the way our government works and the checks and balances around government operations. State Supreme Courts are the highest courts of any state, and they address disputes at the highest level and determined they tell people what the law is where there are disputes, and the cases that come before the court are cases that are brought by everyday people and states all over this country.

V Spehar  04:23

So is it do you see criminal cases and civil cases is it everything comes to the state Supreme Court?

Cheri Beasley  04:28

There are civil cases there are criminal cases there are cases involving small businesses there are cases around families and divorce and child delinquency and abuse neglect dependency and and every issue you can possibly imagine except for speeding tickets. Oh, so courts have a huge roles. And, and most of the decisions are just mentioned, are made in state courts. and not so much the federal courts. So they’re hugely important.

V Spehar  05:03

Something that I’m going to admit to y’all right now is that I spent so much time as like a well informed citizen looking at like, who’s my Congress person who’s going for school board, I know how to search all those people. When it would get to judges, I had to vote for it, I would pick somebody who had like the coolest name, which is the worst way to pick a judge, right? But so often, it wasn’t the side of politics that the political nerds are super into necessarily. It’s not the people you see at the parade, shaking hands and kissing babies. It’s like these figures that you maybe saw on the side of like a bus or you saw them, like maybe once or twice, and I’d be like, I don’t know, I guess I’ll pick the one that says Democrat or I’ll pick the one that has a woman’s name was typically how I was voting because I was like, okay, at least I know, it’s a woman, right? That can I value that. And I don’t want to be that way anymore. And so this next election season, we’re certainly all shifting our coverage from like, everybody knows who Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. is I don’t necessarily have to introduce you to him anymore. But how do we find good information for judges for this next election season? Like is there a special way to like find out if that Judge aligns with your values as a constituent?

Cheri Beasley  06:15

You know, that can say I just want to say I’m deeply concerned about people who run for judge who stake out their positions, on cases that might come before the court if we fully expect people to be fair and impartial as we should. And even though times are changing and how we elect and select judges may change the foundational requirements of who it is we want making decisions, these core constitutional decisions about matters that come before the court and which do impact legislation, and families and communities all over this country. We really do want them to be fair and impartial. And not to come to the court at a place where they’ve been at a place where they’re they’re making promises about how about the outcome of decisions that will come before the court cases that come before the court.

Maureen O’Connor  07:08

I agree 100%, with what Justice Beasley has said about independence, I agree that money is a big problem and the perception of money. That just points to how important the state’s courts are, you know, when I became a justice, I left back politics out in the hallway, you know, I didn’t bring them into this courtroom, and any more than I would bring my religion, or you know, any of my other beliefs or, you know, characteristics, I don’t know what you want to call them. They don’t weigh in, and they should not and anybody that does, doesn’t deserve to wear a robe. You know, if you’re going to be out there touting that I’m pro life, and I will always vote pro life from the bench. You can sit on those cases, ethically, you can’t sit on those type of cases. And the reverse is true, you know, there’s always going to be pro choice no matter what, I don’t know, those terms are really not as concrete as you would think. But but you know, you take a position, or, you know, we have judges that say, you know, every capital case that comes before me, you know, I’m going to come down hard on, you know, in the couch in terms of protecting the community, but they’re getting their coded message across that. You know, they believe in, you know, what they believe in, whatever, whatever it is. Now, you asked about how do I find out about judges, newspapers would do endorsements, they used to be much more meaningful. When people read newspapers, but they don’t, they don’t carry as much weight this time around, but they do that based on you know, interviews and that sort of thing. Other organizations, you know, you name it, there’s an organization they’re going to endorse for the Supreme Court to state statewide, of course, you’re gonna get the FOP, you’re gonna get right to life, you’re gonna get the gun associations, whether it’s the NRA or your state gun. Those are endorsements. And you know, those are code, you know, that they’re gonna vote for Second Amendment. You know, I like them because we have confidence in the Second Amendment rulings that they’ll make that sort of thing. And then, of course, the party’s endorse the party’s, you know, put you up as a as a candidate. And then you’re running. Used to be you’re running in Ohio without a party designation. You’re supposed to be running nonpartisan, but now, the legislature in their wisdom decided that they were going to put ours indies by the names of the justices and appellate judges, you know, to give.

V Spehar  09:54

Oh, that feels icky. It feels like they’re driving that point home. That everything is partisan that you’re on one side or the other, which just feels like it would fuel all of the kind of crap that we are seeing these days, where someone’s like, oh, well, I saw them one time at a dinner with Ted Cruz. So they’re tainted forever. Or like, Oh, I saw them give AOC a high five, there are socialists like, and it’s just not true. We all have to work together as colleagues and friends and whatnot as well.

Maureen O’Connor  10:21

Well, yeah. Ideally, yeah. What you’re saying is what the ideal is, but you know, parties get involved. And they, you know, and just let me say, anecdotally, last year, we have redistricting issues in the in Ohio, and the legislature gave us seven unconstitutional maps, and they were called unconstitutional every time for a variety of reasons. three judge panel from the Federal Court said, we know it’s unconstitutional. But you got to use the third unconstitutional map. It was crazy. But that’s what they used to vote is an unconstitutional map. So we have these gerrymandered districts we’ve had for a million years. And anyway, we’re hoping for a redistricting reform in 2024, that is going to take care of this. But that’s down the road. But I want to say that I have been a Republican officeholder all my career, all right. I never let that get in the way, you know, my decision making. But when I voted with three Democrats to declare these maps unconstitutional seven different times, and I did the same thing, in 2012, when maps were put before the court, I said they were unconstitutional. I was in the minority. Here, we happen to be in the majority. And we would declare these maps unconstitutional. Well, the political parties, they took my picture down at the state headquarters, and it was like, oh, no, please don’t do that. Oh, my God, I can’t believe you’re going to do that. Anything but that. And then one, one state party I understand turned my picture to the wall. But that was, you know, you know, that was like the knife through the heart.

V Spehar  12:10

Just worst they could do. They couldn’t even look at well, now.

Maureen O’Connor  12:14

No, no, no. What was what was really, you know, telling was legislature was rumblings about impeaching me for my vote, because it was a Republican legislature. And they were going to impeach me for my vote. And why? Because you didn’t agree with it. I mean, of course, that’s not an impeachable offense. But there were Articles of Impeachment drawn up, they never filed them. But but this is the crazy atmosphere that we have to operate in. And I’m sure that you know, just as easily has experienced the same craziness with partisan partisan actors.

V Spehar  12:54

So just as easily another question that comes up, and we’re talking about these district maps, of course, is voting access. And a lot of folks are saying that people are becoming disenfranchised, they’re not able to vote. So not only can they not vote for somebody to represent them in the state houses and at the presidential level, but they also can’t vote for the judges that they want. What are your thoughts on the on the justices place in protecting voting rights and voting access?

Cheri Beasley  13:19

Well, the justices role is to follow the rule of law and the Constitution. And so many of these cases increasingly in North Carolina are filed under the North Carolina Constitution as well as the federal constitution. And partisanship certainly does not and should not and must not play a role in the courts decisions. And I know that there are some states that are creating these independent redistricting commissions. There is not one in North Carolina. And so the people of the state are greatly reliant. The court doing the right thing. I am sure that you all are aware of Moore versus Harper, where there was a court case filed that went to the US Supreme Court, where the Supreme Court of this country deny our general assembly State General Assembly’s desire to make the independent state legislator theory, which would allow the journalist some way to make laws about federal election law without review by the state Supreme Court. And so and so the US Supreme Court disavowed that theory. We have to I think, as Chief Justice O’Connor mentioned, understand that there are three co equal branches of government. And that redistricting and voting rights and voter suppression and election Subversion and I think are all at stake. And when we think about access, I think we often think about black and brown people, but we all So I have to remember that so many states across this country to include Ohio and North Carolina are also very rural. And so it also means that rural communities are less likely to have access when we see the kind of voter suppression and gerrymandering that’s happening in so many states across this country.

V Spehar  15:22

Another big group of folks that that has lost their right to vote is of course incarcerated Americans and people who have felonies and I think there’s like 5.2 million Americans can’t vote because of felony disenfranchisement. How do you feel about people who made mistakes, paid their debt to society and are now back out in society regaining that right to vote?

Maureen O’Connor  15:42

Well, I think, you know, that’s an absolute must. And I there is no, there is no justification rationale that said, because you, you know, committed a felony, you’ve done your time you have, you know, paid your debt to society, that you continue to lose your right to vote, you can be reinstated. You don’t get that right back. Once, you know, you’re you’re done with your probation or whatever, you know, the term is that you’re subject to, you know, there’s been some statewide initiatives to do that, by various governors. And then when they I’m trying to, I think Virginia was a state that that tried to do that. And then the governor did and then the legislature saw fit to, in some way, not make it happen. I would say that’s classic voter suppression, that’s classic, taking away rights. You don’t you don’t give up your right to vote, once you’ve paid your debt to society.

Cheri Beasley  16:47

And in North Carolina, the state Supreme Court just recently decided that felons have a right to vote once they have sort of satisfied all the requirements. And then about a year and a half later reversed itself and said that these felons do not have a right to vote and and it certainly is a denial of personhood and citizenship. I think it’s also really important for people to know that when folks have these kinds of convictions, that the fines and fees can be pretty doggone excessive. So on the one hand, we want them to, to go on and be successful with their lives and be productive citizens and take care of their families and, and make contributions to the communities. But often the fines are so excessive, that it really is quite a hinderance for folks to be able to to be to be able to move on.

V Spehar  17:41

Is there anything that the courts you think have a responsibility to when it comes to incarcerating individuals and kind of just the way that people process through the judicial system politics aside, to make sure that people aren’t detained pretrial, simply because they can’t afford things like bail? How have you addressed that during your term?

Cheri Beasley  18:00

Wow, that’s a huge systemic issue. It I certainly know that state laws all across this country say that bail should be reasonable. And we certainly see that there are times that that bail is not just unreasonable, or at a place where somebody can’t afford it. And don’t get me wrong. Bail is also so set to keep communities safe. And that is hugely important. But I think it’s also important to be mindful that there are often deaths, disparate decisions about how bail is imposed, and bonds are set, given the same set of circumstances. And so I think it’s just important, for course, to be mindful of implicit bias. And just so that we are so that courts are making fair decisions about how bonds are set for for people who come before the court.

Maureen O’Connor  19:04

I’d like to weigh in on that, because it’s something that I was very much involved with, when I was, you know, Chief Justice. The National Center for state courts conference of chief justices and the conference of state court administrators had a national task force and I was co chair of that, and it was fine screens and bail, and we issued a report and the report is very, you know, compelling and very thorough about the, you know, nationally, the role that fines fees and bail, and the hardships that that has, you know, imposed, the bond has to be reasonable. And it is only meant to incentivize them to come back to court. You know, for some people, a $500 bond is Mize will be 5000 or 50,000. They just can’t make it. They can’t scrape it together. There. loved ones can’t do it, what happens even three days in jail, they you know, and you extrapolate that they lose their housing, they lose their job, you know, their their support system, you know, is disrupted. And, you know, they never get their cases disposed of. And it might be three, four or five months later, and their life is in shambles. And guess what, sometimes those cases get dismissed after three or four months. But what good does that do the poor person, you know, so, so you got to tailor the amount of money. And sometimes you don’t use money, you have conditions of release, you know, we’re gonna give you an ankle bracelet or we’re going to, you know, require you to report in or you’re going to take drug testing. So we’re no, you know, what you’re doing when you’re those things don’t, they’re not monetary and your, you know, personal recognizance, that’s, that’s thing I’m gonna let you out. And I’m going to trust you. That’s what it says, I’m going to trust you to come back. And we need, we need that, more of that.

V Spehar  23:21

So this this coming season, one of the biggest issues on the ballot for justices for everybody, and certainly around the dinner table, at least in my family has been abortion access. And I know, Justice O’Connor that Ohio has about ballot measure that’s coming up for a vote in August that changes language that would make it more difficult to amend the state constitution. And in part, they’re kind of doing that so that they can ban abortion if they want to. Right. It’s like they kind of want to be able to separate themselves even more from what the national style of things are to say, Well, you can’t amend our constitution and we’re just gonna fight you forever on this. Are you worried about the August election?

Maureen O’Connor  24:06

Oh, absolutely. Uh, you know, I would be foolish if I was not concerned about the August election, what our selection is, you know, right now, in order to amend the Constitution with a citizens initiative, you have to have 50 plus one, you know, like the average, you know, that’s what you’ve got, you know, 50% plus one, and you’ve won the contest. That happens in life. It happens in law and it happens in elections. But the issue on the ballot for this August, the special election is going to be Shall we make it more difficult and require 60% of the vote, and signatures gathered? You know, petitions from all ADA counties, right now it’s at least 44 counties. Okay, and There’s a certain percentage in each one of those counties 5% in each county and has to be equal to, you know, the the number of elected voters in the last gubernatorial election, a certain percentage of that. And so it’s a, it’s a formula. And so you have to gather the signatures, and you have to get them in on a certain date. And then they’re, you know, looked at to verify that they’re legit. And, and if you need if you’re short, you know, some signatures, you have a 10 day cure period right now, so you can go out and hustle more signatures and then submit those and make attempts to get on the ballot. Well, this ballot issue is going to take that away, there’s no cure, period, you got to do all ADA counties, which is a very, very expensive thing to do. And guess what you’ve got to have 60%. Why is 60%? Well, because when Ohioans are pooled there, you know, in the high 50s, mid to high 50s, you know, that believe in reproductive rights? And recently, four states have had, you know, constitutional amendments on this, they’ve passed anywhere from 53 to 57%. Maybe, maybe somebody had 59? I’m not sure. But so the legislature said, Oh, the magic number must be 60. And, you know, so we’ll do 60% Because we don’t think 60% will prevail. And so, not only though, would this constitutional amendment affect, you know, the woman’s reproductive right, which is a ballot measure, it will be on the November election, you know, the signature requirements are, don’t apply to this, you know, technically for technicality, because they were all done before the this election, but the 60% will apply. So, you know, that’s that they’re hoping to, you know, establish that roadblock for reproductive rights, but they will then have that enshrined in the constitution 60%, and then our efforts at the Redistricting Reform Commission, so we’ll have citizens, the commission, not politicians, that would have to pass by 60%. And we’d have to go through all the expense of you know, all those signatures. That’s their intent. You know, so this is this is what the legislature wants to see happen. They, they put a special election on August 8, after they banned special elections. In January, they said no more special elections, nobody shows up, it’s an expensive thing to do. issues aren’t are fairly decided, because there’s so few people that show up, so we’re not going to have any more August elections. And lo and behold, they decided, well, maybe just for this, we’ll have one more August election. And so they put it on. And, you know, that’s that’s the challenge now, number one to make, make people aware that there is an August election. And number two, what’s issue one all about? Not only what’s immediately about, but what’s the far reaching, you know, disastrous results of issue one, and to plead with people to get to the get to the polls to vote, vote early. I’ve already voted. You know, I’m just in case I break my leg. I don’t want to you know.

V Spehar  28:24

I love an early voter. Absolutely. And in addition to these kind of like sneaky things that folks are doing at the legislature trying to one thing I’ll say we have some smart people, they know how to manipulate the language of the constitution so well in a way that they can manufacture consensus to theories that just absolutely hurt the country and are very unpopular. Justice Beasley there’s a lot of talk about creating a code of ethics for the Supreme Court, I would imagine for all courts, beyond just the fact that justices typically we would hope and historically have been pretty good at being a good and ethical person and not having to play politics so much. What kind of rules do you think the court should have to abide by ethically?

Cheri Beasley  29:13

There are courts in every state. In this country, there is a court in Guam Supreme Court in Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and all of the courts have a judicial code of ethics. Every court in this country does except for the Supreme Court of the United States. It is the the vehicle by which the public can have some assurance that judges are governed by a code which ensures their accountability and their, their allegiance to the state into this country. and to making fair and impartial decisions, and an understanding that judges are like lawyers, Guardians of the law and have an obligation to, to, to act justly. And so not to have a code is deeply disturbing. And often, it’s not just because the judge has done an act. But the appearance of impropriety also can increase the lack of confidence in courts and in Judges decisions. And that’s absolutely what we don’t want as Americans. And for me, as a citizen of North Carolina, I want people to have confidence and trust in the courts. I want them to believe sincerely, that judges are there to make fair and impartial decisions, and they’re not there for people necessarily to agree with those decisions. But we should all be have the safeguards in place to assume that judges are working hard and making fair and personal decisions and that there is a safeguard in place for our code of ethics for every court to include the Supreme Court of the United States.

V Spehar  31:16

Do you think that there’s an opportunity in the near future to say nine justices just isn’t enough? I mean, even just hypothetically, looking at how the population of this country has grown, we’ve had nine for a long time. Do you see a path towards there ever being more in that helping us be more fair, or allowing more people to recuse themselves if they have a conflict?

Maureen O’Connor  31:36

Well, I don’t think that I mean, it the thing on the Supreme Court, if somebody has to recuse they don’t have someone to fill in, right?

V Spehar  31:45

We need like a JV, right. Like you could like pull someone up for thought.

Maureen O’Connor  31:50

Well, we do that in Ohio, there’s a justice that has to recuse we, I would select somebody from the appellate bench, you know, a judge to come and sit. They can do that in and that was an argument that Justice Scalia made when he was I think out? Did he do a hunting trip or something and and people were calling for him to get off of a case that then Vice President Cheney was interested in, and I don’t remember all the details. But you know, he wrote this long explanation of why he can’t, shouldn’t get off. And one of them was, if I get off, then there’s only eight justices, and the result could turn out to be four, four. And then American, the American public is not served by that because no decision comes out. So I can’t recuse myself. Now, I don’t necessarily buy that because a recusal the need for recusal is a need for recusal, it’s not, it’s not, you know, duty calls. Therefore, I have to, you know, sit on this case, even though I have a personal interest in it.

V Spehar  33:00

Justice Beasley What do you think about adding to the court?

Cheri Beasley  33:03

You know, in North Carolina, we are not at the the court is not allowed. So if a judge refuses then that there, you can’t go to the Jaypee match. You can’t go to the appellate bench. So you have the number you have. There are seven justices on the Supreme Court of North Carolina, there are nine clearly on the Supreme Court of the United States. Nine is a big number. It’s a really is it is a paper. It’s it is logistically a lot to just think about. I mean, there’s lots that goes on behind the scenes and making these decisions and making sure that you’re coordinating responses and conferencing and all that. I hope that your listeners will think about this, because expanding the court is not the answer. For those who are concerned about government and about service. The answer is voting. And so it’s important that as folks vote, that they be mindful that you’re not just voting for a person. You’re not just voting for president. And as you mentioned, V I think he made a wonderful point that people often don’t think about judicial candidates because they are quote, unquote, down ballot. They’re down ballot candidates. And so you don’t see lots and lots of commercials on TV or on YouTube. Promoting judicial candidates is hugely expensive, particularly in large television markets to push presidential candidates. So it’s impossible for judicial candidates to get that same kind of attention. And so it is important for folks to know, but it’s also important to know why you vote for president and why you’re choosing this candidate. And you’ve got to be mindful that that person also has the authority and will use it and should to select members of the US Supreme Court and that’s deeply important in thinking about why it’s important to vote among a lot of other really important and silly reasons.

V Spehar  36:57

I like to end the show with hopeful stuff. So I’m wondering if you all would share with me each just maybe one story of something you’re really proud of as your from your time as the Chief Justice something that you really championed that got through that you’re like, Yeah, that one was that was a good day in court.

Cheri Beasley  37:14

Oh, my gosh, there are so many cases. And there are so many people, because I also started as a trial judge. And so there’s so I mean, I see children now who are now adults that who are doing amazing things with their lives. And it’s just it is fulfilling to know that people can face challenges and families can face challenges and see a lot of success along the way. One of the the programs that I am most proud of as Chief Justice, although there were so many years that we started a faith and Justice Alliance, we knew that there were a lot of people who, in civil cases, like landlord, tenant disputes, and a host of veterans having problems with getting there was that we had lawyers who were people of faith, who wanted to align their faith and their service with helping people who needed representation at no cost. And so I was really proud of us founding that program here in North Carolina under my tenure as Chief Justice.

V Spehar  38:10

That’s beautiful, Justice O’Connor, a moment that stands out.

Maureen O’Connor  38:15

Well, I’ve had a very long career, I’m the longest serving elected female in the history of the state. So, you know, that just means I’m old. But but, you know, I started out as a magistrate and probate court, and even today, and that was back in the mid 80s. Until maybe 93. I still run into people whose adoptions I oversaw, you know, as a as a magistrate. And they remember, I certainly don’t remember, but But I everything from infants to adult adoptions, you know, when somebody became a teen, and they they were adopted by maybe a stepfather or mother, that sort of thing. So that was always I think, one of the most heartwarming, you know, parts of my job, that’s when people are happy to come to court, because most of the time, you know, people don’t want to be in front of you, they don’t want to see you because you’re solving problems for people that they can’t solve themselves. And they’re not, they’re not pleasant problems. No problem was pleasant, but they’re, they’re at the lowest in their lives, their relationships, you know, the relationship with a law, you know, so that very low point for them. And the best thing you can do as a judge, and I tried to do especially in the trunk court is, you know, be appropriately stern, and you know, when necessary, but also not afraid to show leniency and mercy and kindness to people. And I tried to do that as a trial court. One of the things that I’m most proud of, and it’s not, I mean, there’s plenty of cases I could bore you with, but um, With the increased level of diversity in the Supreme Court, in our employees, I mentioned, we have about 250, toner 60 depending on, you know, how many slots are filled, and the increased number of diverse candidates that come to us has I mean, it’s increased dramatically since I became, especially in the LBGTQ. Q, you know, community because of my hires, okay. Staff, my personal staff, that sort of thing. You know, I mentioned, law clerks. And, you know, word got around the, the Supreme Court is a great place to work, what is a great place to work. But it’s also a place that is so accepting, you know, of diversity, and welcoming of diversity. And so we really increased our diversity under when I was Chief Justice. And I certainly hope that that continues, because, you know, everybody’s enriched by a diverse community.

V Spehar  41:03

I appreciate you both being here with me today. If there was something that you wanted to leave the audience with, for some inspiration going into this next election season, or just, maybe they’re facing the court sometime soon. What would you want folks to know about your branch of government?

Cheri Beasley  41:18

You know, I do believe just because we know so much more about everything now with social media. And we have heightened awareness about a lot of things, which I think worth works both ways. I think it’s important for people to have the information. We’re sort of in a soundbite society, however, and so it’s hard for people to get all of the information. Courts are a place where people seek redress. And, as a black woman, I understand fully that courts have, it’s often the journey is arduous. There’s a lot of loss and sacrifice, but it is the place where redress can be had successfully. And so I hope that people walk away, knowing that it is deeply important, and incumbent upon all of us to know who every single elected official is on the ballot from the top to the bottom. And to know that, that when we do that, and when we vote, and when we speak our vote, and when we speak our voices, and we we use the courts in a way to make our families and our communities safer and better. And when we make sure that we are opposing discrimination and racism and sexism and homophobia and all of isms. That’s what courts are for the constitutionally they’re around those kinds of really critical issues, and so much more. And so, courts, the function of courts remains the same. Our job as members of the electorate also remains the same. And so we must be vigilant and making sure that we cast our ballots and that we know as much as we can possibly know about the people who are offering themselves for service.

V Spehar  43:05

Will we see you in another elected position sometime? Are you going to enjoy retirement?

Cheri Beasley  43:10

You know, I don’t know the answer to that. I’m not retired, retired I my kids are still in college, still working. But I don’t know the answer to that if there’s a way that I need to be in service. But what I tell you, I will do I’m not I’m not on the bench, and I will continue to fight for reproductive health, I will continue to fight for LGBTQIA plus communities, I’ll continue to fight for farmers and for small businesses and our families here in the state. I believe in democracy, and most people in this in this state and in this country do and so I will always fight for what’s right. And I will stand against what what’s wrong.

V Spehar  43:53

Well, we will be on the lookout to see if your name shows up on any ballot soon. I hope so personally, I don’t even live in your state. I just love you. And I hope that you brought a Chief Justice O’Connor, what about you? What do you hope people know about your branch of government?

Maureen O’Connor  44:08

Well, I hope they know that. There’s hard working men and women who are judges that they they try their best, that they’re important. It’s important to be represented by competent counsel. Don’t try and wing it on your own, you know, these pro se, that doesn’t, that you’re doing yourself a disservice. And you know, just because you don’t like the result doesn’t mean it’s not a legal result. That you know, it has to be, you go to court, and you have to once you go through the whole, you know, process even the levels of appeal, and you walk away and you’re not happy. That doesn’t mean that the law wasn’t followed. And your recourse then is to maybe try and change the law. You know, through your legislature, that sort of thing. But, you know, right now, I’m working on this redistricting effort, the reform for the November 24 election, also challenging and, you know, working against our August election on issue one. I am not, you know, employed. This is all volunteer, but it’s like a full time job. Really. You know, I started out when I’m going to retire in December, people say, Well, what are you going to do? What are you going to do? And I would say, I’m going to take four months off, and do absolutely nothing. And I would say it will be ldj, far Nantais. It’s the sweetness of doing nothing. I haven’t even had four days off. So I have no idea what the sweetness of doing nothing feels like. But by golly, I’m going to, I hope you get when I don’t know when, but I’m going to do it.

V Spehar  46:03

Like my mom says everybody deserves the chance to count deer off their back porch, they should just write. It has been an absolute honor to interview both of you and hear your stories and get your perspective on so many things that are just confusing and upsetting to Americans right now. And I feel certainly more clear on what the state Supreme Court does and how to find better information about justices. And I hope the listeners at home do as well. If you don’t, we’ll have a bunch of links in the show notes and make it easy for you to find this stuff. Thank you again, both for being here.

Maureen O’Connor  46:35

You’re welcome. My pleasure.

V Spehar  46:40

Thanks again to the Chief Justice’s for their time and insights today. I know I feel a lot more informed after this conversation. And I also feel like I have some tools to go into the next election with a better understanding of the judicial races that have always thrown me for a loop. No more willy nilly judge voting just on who has the coolest name. We’ve got to research and use the tools at our disposal to really dig into who these folks are and what it means for our democracy. Thanks again to United for democracy for making this conversation possible. Be sure to tune into Friday’s episode where we dig into the headlines you may have missed please leave us a five star rating on whatever platform you’re listening on. It really does help people find the show. Follow me at under the desk news on tick tock Instagram and YouTube. Also, if you can please consider a contribution to the new Patreon at patreon.com/under. The desk news we’ll have access to a discord channel and live q&a is with me all kinds of fun stuff. And guess what friends, there’s even more be interesting with limonada premium subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content like me and award winning podcast host and creator Nicky boy you’re absolutely geeking out about 90 Day fiance. I am obsessed with that whole franchise. It is my guilty pleasure. Subscribe now in Apple podcasts.

V Spehar  47:57

V Interesting is a Lemonada Media Original. Our producers are Kryssy Pease, Kathryn Barnes and Martin Macias. Our VP of weekly programming is Steve Nelson. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittles Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Mix and scoring is by James Farber. Music by Seth Applebaum. Please help others find the show by reading and reviewing wherever you listen and follow us across all social platforms at @VitusSpehar, @underthedesknews and @LemonadaMedia. If you want more V Interesting. Subscribe to Lemonada Premium only on Apple podcasts and follow the show where ever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership.  Justin Jones

Spoil Your Inbox

Pods, news, special deals… oh my.