Why Do State Supreme Courts Matter to You?

Today the U.S. Supreme Court is undeniably one of the most important actors in our political landscape. Especially with major landmark cases last year dealing with issues from healthcare to LGBT rights, the Supreme Court has increasingly received a lot of attention from the public for both good and bad. Comparatively, however, state supreme courts often go unrecognized for the most part. Despite this relative lack of public attention, however, state supreme courts often play just as integral a role in their respective states as the U.S. Supreme Court does for the country.

On Wednesday, February 24, 2016 the Rockefeller Center hosted four Dartmouth alumni, the Hon. James Basset ’78, Hon. Robert Cordy ’71, Hon. Beth Robinson ’86 and Susan “Sue” Finegan ’85 to discuss the role that state supreme courts and supreme court justices play. Specifically, they discussed issues such as the difference between state and federal courts, how the role state supreme court justices play has evolved over time, and paths to becoming a state supreme court justice.

The Hon. James Bassett ’78 is an Associate Justice at the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and has served at the bench since 2012. Previously, he has worked as a trial and appellate lawyer in New Hampshire, specializing in complex commercial and civil litigation. He will be paneling alongside the Hon. Robert Cordy ’71, an Associate Justice at the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court appointed in 2001 with a background in both the private and public sector serving in positions such as Chief Legal Counsel to the Massachusetts governor, and the Hon. Beth Robinson ’86, an Associate Justice at the Vermont Supreme Court who was appointed to the bench in 2011 and worked previously as a prominent litigator for LGBT rights in Vermont. The panel was moderated by Susan “Sue” Finegan ’85, a pro bono partner at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. whose work focuses on sexual assault and domestic violence.

Submitted by Jeeihn Lee ’16, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Public Programs

The views and opinions expressed and any materials presented during a public program are the speaker’s own and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the Rockefeller Center or constitute an endorsement by the Center.