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ELECTIONS 2020 IL SUPREME COURT (FREEMAN VACANCY) Margaret Stanton McBride on diversity, LGBT
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2020-03-16

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Margaret Stanton McBride is a lifelong Illinoisan ( born in Evanston ) who's running for a seat on the state's highest court. Her credentials include a judicial career of more than three decades, as a Cook County judge, presiding judge and an Illinois appellate court justice.

Windy City Times: Could you provide our readers with a little background about yourself?

Margaret Stanton McBride: I've been a judge for about 32 years and have been serving on the appellate court about 20 years. I was a trial judge for about 12 years before that; I sat in a number of divisions on the Circuit Court, including law and criminal.

I'm married, I live in Glenview and I've got two kids ( a son, 32, and a daughter, 27 ). I was the first judge to take maternity leave; I had my first child at 35. At that time, most of the women who had gotten to that position were older. It was a different time. [Laughs]

Also, I have six brothers and sisters, and we all live in Cook County. My father was a lawyer, but contracted encephalitis at 56; that took a lot out of him. He had a massive heart attack at 56, and died. My mother was a very strong woman, and had a quote for everything. [Laughs] But my dad [stirred] my feelings about law, and I wanted to be a judge.

WCT: Is either child involved in law?

MSM: My son was on the six-year plan for college. He went over to Europe and played a little hockey; he came back and went to law school, at age 29, and he just graduated. He passed the bar, and he's now an assistant state's attorney in DuPage County. My daughter was a history major and is working for a company in Chicago; she's getting a master's in mental health.

WCT: How difficult is it to hear a case that involves a subject you previously advocated for? I know you've been on the Cook County Circuit Court's Domestic Violence Coordinating Council.

MSM: It's not really difficult to be objective about a case. The coordinating council was formed to bring in stakeholders—judges, agencies, etc.—to facilitate the process of effectuating fair and honest justice for those cases. When I left the state's attorney's office to become a judge, I was no longer an advocate. Judges should have good, solid trial experience to see how things work—but a judge has to be neutral, fair and impartial. That was my reputation immediately.

WCT: You're running for the Freeman vacancy. There's a school of thought that because Charles Freeman was a person of color, that his successor should be one as well. What is your response to that?

MSM: Well, I'm in favor of diversity. In all of our courts, we should have people of color and with different backgrounds—and women, as well. At the end of the day, however, we want to make sure that qualifications matter. In a democracy, when a vacancy occurs, able candidates should have the right to run. I'm running on my qualifications, and I certainly represent diversity in that I'm a woman. There's never been a majority of women on this court.

WCT: Of course, there have been many historic cases in this country. If you could've been part of the ruling of any of those cases, which would you choose?

MSM: Brown vs. Board of Education [of Topeka]. If we talk about something that every child should have—a good education—it's that one. "Separate but equal" was not equal. That's just one case I would've liked.

WCT: Let's switch to LGBTQ-related questions. What's been your involvement with the community?

MSM: I would say that I've been a member of the [pro-LGBTQ group] Alliance of Illinois Judges. They're trying to make certain that LGBTQ judges are treated fairly, and that the whole community to have respect for everyone. I have members on my committee, [such as] Cheryl Cesario [and] Lori Wolfson, who are members of the LGBTQ community. I have always tried to help others who aren't necessarily like me. I can't put myself in the shoes of people who have truly suffered discrimination, like LGBTQ people and African-Americans, but I feel that I can help in some way. Fairness is extremely important when it comes to treatment of all individuals.

WCT: What do you think is the most important issue for the LGBTQ community?

MSM: There are still a lot of issues. There's still discrimination in a lot of different areas. There are cases coming up before the U.S. Supreme Court that involve [employment] discrimination, but there's discrimination in the same-sex case [Blumenthal v.] Brewer [which McBride wrote an opinion in, in 2014]. To me, that case did not involve equal treatment, because the couple didn't have the same rights as a heterosexual couple. The issues of discrimination are still there.

WCT: What is your biggest advantage in your primary race, and what's your biggest disadvantage?

MSM: I think my biggest advantage is that, even though we all have "highly qualified" ratings, I've been found highly qualified for over 30 years. I was never appointed to a vacancy, and I never had the backing of the Democratic Party. And also, as I mentioned earlier, I sat as a trial judge in five divisions; no one else in this race has done that. Also, I've written [many] opinions while on the appellate court.

My biggest disadvantage is that it's a diverse, qualified group of candidates—and it's hard for voters to know where we stand on issues. One of the candidates has a lot of money; he's put $2 million in his campaign—but the rest of us are disadvantaged against him, in that case.

See McBrideForSupremeCourt.com .


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