INDIANAPOLIS – 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.
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.. After her swearing-in, Rush’s daughters, Mary and Sarah, helped their mother slip into her official black robe, while her husband, Jim, and sons Jacob and Luke watched.
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.
In 1998, before she 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 hurt and she later had to have surgery. 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.