In a ceremony on Tuesday, April 10, the Supreme Court of North Carolina honored the women justices who have served on the state's highest court. This commemorative ceremony is the second official event to be held as a part of the Supreme Court’s 200th anniversary celebration.
The event featured a portrait sitting of the justices and a short program honoring (pictured above from left to right, top row): former Chief Justice Susie Sharp, former Chief Justice Rhoda Billings, former Chief Justice Sarah Parker, former Associate Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson; (bottom row) Associate Justice Robin E. Hudson, Associate Justice Barbara Jackson, and Associate Justice Cheri Beasley.
"Every member who has served on this Court is important and highly valued. Today, we recognize the superb contributions that this Court's women justices have made and continue to make to our State's jurisprudence and to the rule of law. Their wisdom and insight have benefitted this Court and all North Carolinians."
The historic celebration included remarks by Chief Justice Martin, Court of Appeals Chief Judge Linda M. McGee, former Associate Justice Franklin Freeman, Renee Crawford, Catharine Arrowood, Jenny Leisten, Janet Ward Black, Judge Donna Stroud, Denaa Griffin, and Associate Justice Hudson. Dignitaries from all three branches of government were in attendance, including current and former members of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeals, judges, and judicial staff.
Supreme Court Justices Honored
- Former Chief Justice Susie Sharp
1962 - 1979
Chief Justice Sharp became the first female judge in the history of the state in 1949. She served the next 13 years as a special judge of the Superior Court before being appointed in 1962 as the first female Supreme Court associate justice. In 1974, she became the first female in the United States to be elected Chief Justice of a state Supreme Court, and the state's 20th chief justice.
- Former Chief Justice Rhoda Billings
1985 - 1986
Chief Justice Billings served as North Carolina's 22nd chief justice, the second woman to hold that position, and the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
- Former Chief Justice Sarah Parker
1993 - 2014
Chief Justice Parker served on the N.C. Court of Appeals from 1985 until 1993, when she was sworn in as an associate justice of the Supreme Court. For the next 13 years, Justice Parker was the only woman on the Court. She was appointed Chief Justice Parker in 2006, the third female in that position and the state's 27th chief justice.
- Former Associate Justice Patricia Timmons-Goodson
2006 - 2012
Justice Timmons-Goodson was the first African-American female to serve the state's highest court. She currently serves as Vice Chair, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. During her 28-year tenure on the bench, she also served on the N.C. Court of Appeals from 1997 to 2005, and as a District Court judge in Judicial District 12 from 1984 to 1997.
- Associate Justice Robin E. Hudson
2007 - present
Justice Hudson has served on the Supreme Court of North Carolina since elected in 2007. She served on the Court of Appeals from 2001 to 2006, and was the first North Carolina woman elected to the appellate court division without having been appointed first.
- Associate Justice Barbara Jackson
2011 - present
Justice Jackson serves as an associate justice of the Supreme Court since elected in 2010. She previously served as a Court of Appeals judge from 2004 to 2010.
- Associate Justice Cheri Beasley
2012 - present
Justice Beasley is the seventh woman and second African-American female to serve on the Supreme Court. She also served on the N.C. Court of Appeals from 2009 to 2012, as a District Court judge in Cumberland County from 1999 to 2008, and as an assistant public defender for five years.
The Supreme Court of North Carolina is the state’s highest court and there is no further appeal from its decisions on matters of state law. It comprises the Chief Justice, who also serves as the head of the Judicial Branch, and six associate justices, each serving eight-year terms.