On Tuesday, Sept. 20, AU celebrated Constitution Day with guest speaker Loretta Rush, the chief justice of the Indiana Supreme Court.
Rush spoke in York Performance Hall to a room full of AU students, community members, judges and even a class of high school students from Alexandria-Monroe High School.
Constitution Day is a federally required time of reflection on the Constitution by educational institutions on or around Sept. 17 each year.
During her lecture, Rush spoke on her experiences in her career, different cases she has been involved in and how the Constitution applies to her.
Rush is originally from Pennsylvania but moved to Indiana in 1972. She went to Purdue University to receive her undergraduate degree and later on went to Indiana University Maurer School of Law. She is now married and has four children.
Since then, Rush has had an extensive career in our legal system. She was elected as the Tippecanoe Superior Court 3 judge and served there for 14 years. She joined the Supreme Court four years ago and, within months of joining, became a Supreme Court Justice. On Aug. 14 of 2014, she was named the Chief Justice.
While serving in Tippecanoe, Rush aided in making the Court Appointed Special Advocate program in the county. The CASA program partners trained volunteers with children who need a voice in their court case. Rush also helped to develop and grow over 25 programs for youth and currently serves on the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana.
The lecture was part of the Carroll Leadership Lecture series.
The Carroll Leadership series was created by Emily Govan Carroll. Eventually, she and her husband, Judge Dennis D. Carroll, created the series because of their commitment to the university and developing strong leaders. Last year, the chosen speaker for the series was James Comey, current director of the FBI.
During her talk, Rush stated that “if you want to know what’s going on in your community, ask your judges.” She then gave an example of one of her cases in the community that she could share. Rush said she currently has one with “negligence involving a karate kick, so stay tuned.”
In part of her speech, Rush addressed the students and informed them about a program called the ICLEO, which stands for Indiana Conference for Legal Education Opportunity. She said that the program is a “six-week intensive boot camp” for underprivileged college graduates who are working towards a degree in law in Indiana. Rush urged students who would be eligible for the program to look into it and contact her for more information.
After this offer to speak with students about the ICLEO, Rush later invited students to her courthouse. She spoke of how beautiful the rooms are and how she would love to show the space.
Toward the end of her speech, Rush addressed some of the most difficult parts of her job and how she handles them. She stated that one challenge of her job is that “there’s not a day I’m not reading a case without molest or murder.” With this heavy material put in front of her every day, she said “you have to maintain your composure.”
Following her lecture, the floor was opened to audience questions.
Rush was asked what changes she is looking toward in the near future. She said her main change she would like to make is criminal code reform. She expressed her disapproval of how people have to sit in prison for potentially months before being convicted, and she plans to shorten the time the people will be staying in prison before being convicted.
The Constitution Day celebration ended with a reception in the lobby of York Performance Hall. There were snacks and drinks for all to enjoy, along with a chance for students to speak with those who have an incredible impact on not only our commu