Notable Black leaders in legal arena demonstrate the moral arc’s move toward justice | Opinion

Proud history

The pre-civil war abolitionist Theodore Parker famously wrote, “The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice.” In my 55 years of practicing law, I have witnessed the profound truth and optimism of this quotation.

During the period of Reconstruction, South Carolina elected its first African American Supreme Court Justice, Jonathan Jasper Wright. As could be expected, his tenure on the court was fraught and relatively brief. A century later, Justice Ernest Finney, also African American, served on our Supreme Court, rising ultimately to become our first African American chief justice.

The Honorable Matthew J. Perry Jr. was a champion of the Civil Rights struggle and the first African American federal judge to be confirmed by the Senate in the Deep South. Our federal courthouse in Columbia bears his name.

Other groundbreaking African American federal judges include, among others, Judge Jasper Cureton of the S.C. Court of Appeals and Circuit Judge Richard E. Fields of Charleston who passed away earlier this month at the age of 103.

We recently proudly witnessed Judge Michelle Childs and DeAndrea Benjamin earn confirmation to Federal Courts of Appeal.

Our current Supreme Court Chief Justice, the Hon. Donald Beatty, also African American, presides with dignity and wisdom.

Perhaps no South Carolina judge, regardless of race, has achieved the recognition and respect of Circuit Judge Clifton Newman who presided over the highly publicized trial of State v. Murdaugh. Lawyer friends from across the nation have commented to me about how impressed they were with Judge Newman’s patience, civility and perspicuity. He made us proud.

Let all of us South Carolinians reflect on the racial equality and progress that has been made in our judiciary and in the legal profession as we continue the march and the bending of the arc of our moral universe.

Joel Collins, Columbia

Abortion and faith

In some states, Right to Life groups, spurred on by conservative Christians have used religious affiliations to justify their pro-life stance. But not all religions are in agreement.

Democratic Rep. Ed Stafman of the Montana House of Representatives, an ordained rabbi, stated in a recent edition of The Great Falls Tribune that the no-abortion stance “violates the rights of people with different beliefs.” Judaism, he said, “has a tremendous respect for life and differentiates between a woman as a life and a fetus as a potential life.”

The Associated Press article states the following denominations oppose abortion rights with few or no exceptions: the Roman Catholic Church, the Assemblies of God, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The article also states that these denominations support abortion rights with few or no limits: The Episcopal Church (U.S.A.), The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The United Methodist Church, Conservative and Reform Judaism, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the Unitarian Universalist Church and the United Church of Christ.

All members of various faiths have deep rooted and serious beliefs and these diverse beliefs should be respected. None should impose on the rights of the other faiths.

Jane Lawther, Irmo

Save the Marsh Tacky

Many South Carolinians may not realize that we are home to one of the most endangered horse breeds in the world – the Marsh Tacky, a Spanish Colonial horse breed whose roots run deep in South Carolina’s history.

Only 500 remain today.

The presence of Spanish Colonial horses in America dates to the 1500s when explorers brought them to our shores. The horses made their way to South Carolina through trade routes and found refuge in the isolated parts of the Lowcountry.

The vitality of the Marsh Tacky breed and preserving its heritage in South Carolina are important to our state and its culture, as well as our equine industry.

The S.C. Equine Advancement Act provides a unique opportunity to assist nonprofits like the Carolina Marsh Tacky Association with saving and preserving this culturally and historically important horse by providing new funding streams to assist with programming, staffing, and medical supplies.

In 2010, our state legislators named the Marsh Tacky as South Carolina’s State Heritage Horse. By passing the S.C. Equine Advancement Act, our legislators would be continuing the effort to revitalize our state’s long-standing equine heritage.

Caroline Knight, Hollywood