Jesse White, Jan Schakowsky endorse state Supreme Court candidate Nathaniel Howse Jr.

Appellate Court Judge Nathaniel Howse Jr. is running to become the second African American man elected to the state’s highest court

SHARE Jesse White, Jan Schakowsky endorse state Supreme Court candidate Nathaniel Howse Jr.
Nathaniel Howse Jr. accepts the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

Nathaniel Howse Jr. accepts the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

Rachel Hinton / Sun-Times

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky endorsed “underdog” Appellate Court Judge Nathaniel Howse Jr. Wednesday as he seeks to become the second black man elected to the Illinois Supreme Court.

“Judge Howse is probably one of the brightest bulbs in the building and one of the sharpest knives in the drawer, and that’s why I’m … behind him,” White said before a room full of Howse supporters, including Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) and Derrick Curtis (18th).

“I believe people of all races, religions, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identities should get fairness in our courts,” Howse said. “I believe that we as a country and as a party need to do more to protect the rights of all, especially the most vulnerable of us.”

Howse is one of seven in the crowded race to unseat incumbent Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville Jr.

Neville was appointed to the spot in May 2018 to replace former Justice Charles Freeman, who was the first black man to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court.

Along with Howse and Neville, Appellate Judges Cynthia Cobbs, Margaret McBride, Jesse Reyes and Sheldon Harris, and lawyer Daniel Epstein are all vying for the spot as of a pre-slating meeting of the Cook County Democratic Party in June.

Schakowsky said Howse would uphold the rights of Illinois citizens, which she said are in need of a trustworthy judicial system.

“The rights of so many — women and immigrants and people of color and senior citizens and working families — are really depending on a judicial system that will work for them,” Schakowsky said. “We need judges that will protect civil and constitutional rights. We need Justice Howse, who has the experience and the perspective Illinois needs in the Supreme Court.”

Born in Tennessee, Howse grew up seeing his father unable to find employment and witnessed inequality in the school system despite the Brown v. Board of Education decision that outlawed racial segregation in public schools.

As a Supreme Court justice, Howse says he’d keep underdogs, who come from humble beginnings like him, in mind.

“My story is an underdog story,” Howse said. “The struggles that my family endured are not relics of history; similar hardships are very a reality for too many families today. As your next Supreme Court justice, I will fight for those families every day.”

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