2nd woman on state’s high court takes formal oath
By RICK CALLAHAN December 28, 2012 4:16PM
Loretta Rush, left, takes the oath of office from Gov. Mitch Daniels while her husband Jim, center, watches as she becomes the 108th Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court, Friday, Dec. 28, 2012, at the State House in Indianapolis. Justice Rush becomes the second woman appointed to eh Indiana Supreme Court. Daniels picked Rush in September to replace Justice Frank Sullivan Jr., who stepped down in July after 19 years as a justice. (AP Photo/The Indianapolis Star, Matt Kryger) NO SALES.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A former juvenile judge publicly sworn in Friday as only the second female Indiana Supreme Court justice told a packed courtroom she looks forward to the day when a woman joining the high court will be considered an “unremarkable” event.
Justice Loretta Rush, 54, joined the court last month following a private ceremony, but Gov. Mitch Daniels administered the formal oath of office Friday during a public ceremony attended by about 200 people in the oak-paneled courtroom.
Her ascension to the court after 14 years as a Tippecanoe County judge ended Indiana’s distinction as one of only three states with all-male Supreme Courts. And Rush is only the second woman to serve on the court. Justice Myra Selby stepped down in 1999 after five years.
Daniels chose Rush in September to succeed Justice Frank Sullivan Jr., who stepped down in July after 19 years.
Following her swearing-in, Rush’s daughters, Mary and Sarah, helped their mother slip into her official black robe, while her husband, Jim, and the couple’s two sons, Jacob and Luke, watched.
After taking her place with the court’s four other justices, Rush pointed out during her remarks the room’s portrait of Justice Leonard Hackney. She noted that Hackney wrote the majority opinion in an 1893 case that reversed a circuit court ruling that said women could not be attorneys in Indiana because they could not vote.
“My portrait only hangs there on these walls because of Hackney ... and so many others who have come before,” she said.
Rush said she hopes to serve a long time on the court and looks forward “to the day when a woman’s appointment to this court is unremarkable.”
As a Tippecanoe County judge, Rush’s court in Lafayette focused on juvenile cases, including guardianships, delinquencies, adoptions and protective order hearings. She has also led a push for better and more uniform protections for Indiana’s abused and neglected children.
Rush said her Statehouse office is now filled with hundreds of photos of children involved in the cases she oversaw; cases, she said, that helped prepare her for her sobering new post.
“Those pictures are a constant reminder of the importance of all the work we do. Little did I know that it was those children who were actually preparing me for today,” she said.
Selby told the gathering that Rush’s skills as a county judge and an advocate for children are among the “important additions” she brings to the high court. She also said Rush told her in recent conversations that one of her goals is increasing the high court’s transparency to boost the public’s trust in the judiciary.
“I am sure that she will bring that to the Indiana Supreme Court. She will bring it through her unique voice,” Selby said.
In November 1998, before Rush began first term as a Tippecanoe County judge, a 27-year-old former juvenile client kicked in the front door of her home and tried to kill her husband. Rush hid their children and tried to get help, but she and her husband both were injured and she later had to have surgery.
The attacker was convicted of attempted murder and burglary.
Chief Justice Brent Dickson, who praised Rush for her compassion and openness to innovation, alluded to Rush’s harrowing experience as a victim during his closing remarks.
“She has seen the justice system in a way that fortunately few of the rest of us ever know. We will doubtless benefit greatly from her insights and her perspectives from this ordeal,” he said.