CHICAGO (CBS) — Ald. Ed Burke (14th) has been in headlines for weeks.
Now West Side preachers, politicians and activists turn up the heat on his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, to withdraw a judicial nomination they call a slap in the face.
CBS 2 news political reporter Derrick Blakley has more on the controversy that revolves around race.
West siders converge on the Illinois State Supreme Court’s Chicago headquarters to deliver an urgent message.
“We’re asking Justice Anne Burke to rescind her appointment of Cara Smith to the 7th subcircuit,” said Reverend Ira Acree of the Greater St. John Bible Church.
It was Justice Burke who appointed Smith, a longtime policy adviser to Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, to fill a vacant judgeship. But that judicial district represents much of Chicago’s black West Side.
“We want someone who is African American to hold that seat,” Acree said. “It’s been our seat and we don’t want to let it go.”
It was West Side Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) who originally raised the issue. And Justice Burke issued a rare statement, essentially dismissing Ervin’s complaints as political sour grapes.
Burke said Smith was found “highly qualified” by the Chicago Bar Association. But the candidate Ervin favors, former Illinois State Representative Pamela Reaves-Harris was “not recommended” because she didn’t have enough court experience.
“To say there are no qualified individuals on the West Side of Chicago to take the seat is a false narrative and I totally disagree with that,” Ervin said.
In fact, attorney Patrick Dankwa John said he applied, was found “qualified” by the Chicago Bar Association.
“I did not get a call. I did not get an interview,” said John. “I don’t know who else did but I did not. And I’ve been practicing law for 21 years.”
Meantime, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot stopped short of calling for Smith’s appointment to be reversed, but she said…
“Diversity does matter, making sure there are people that are sitting on the judiciary who understand the unique needs and challenges of their community I think is really important.”
Cara Smith had no comment on Friday’s protest.
She is scheduled to be sworn in on Monday.