Leah Ward Sears

Courtesy of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP

Behind the bench in Georgia's Supreme Court, there is an inscription on the wall. It reads "Fiat justitia ruat caelum". It's Latin for "Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall." While Georgia was one of the last states at the time to establish its high court — in 1846 — there have been many firsts since.

That includes electing the first African-American woman as a Chief Justice, anywhere in the country, in 2005. The Honorable Leah Ward Sears broke a number of other precedents in her climb to the state's highest judicial title, and did not stop there. The now-retired Chief Justice joined On Second Thought to reflect on why she pursued a career in the law, the steep climb from lawyer to judge to the Georgia Supreme Court, and life after stepping down from the bench.


On Second Thought For Thursday, March 22, 2018

Mar 22, 2018

Opioid addiction is a major problem in Georgia. Several years ago, Governor Nathan Deal signed the "Good Samaritan" bill. The bill was created to prevent opioid overdose deaths by giving amnesty to anyone who reports drug-related emergencies. The measure also equips law enforcement and first responders with Naloxone, a drug that can reverse overdoses if given right away.

On Second Thought For Thursday, July 20, 2017

Jul 20, 2017

First, one of the first African-American elementary schools in Atlanta was recently slated for destruction. But after outcry a piece of the structure was saved, to become part of a new YMCA center in Vine City. This is just one fight in a perennial battle over historic preservation. A recent National Trust for Historic Preservation study says Atlanta has a  teardown culture -- worse than just about about any other major American city. We talk about this with Sheffield Hale, President of the Atlanta History Center. And with Mtamanika Youngblood, President of Sweet Auburn Works.

On Second Thought For Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Jul 11, 2017

A recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council shows Georgia leads most states in drinking water violations. Most happen in rural areas. We talk about the findings with Erik Olson, the NRDC’s health program director.

Then, 40 years ago President Jimmy Carter posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr. The civil rights icon had died about a decade earlier. Our producer Sean Powers takes us back to the day MLK was honored at the White House with this audio postcard.

University of Georgia Press

Jurist Leah Ward Sears is a trailblazer. On top of being the first woman, and youngest person to sit on Georgia's Supreme Court, she was also the first African-American female Chief Justice in the United States. A new biography about her life, called “Seizing Serendipity" by Rebecca Davis, tracks her rise to success from humble Georgia beginnings.

PINTEREST

February is a time to celebrate influential figures in African-American history. And our guest today is certainly one of those trailblazing figures.