State Supreme Court candidate pushes for diversity in TV ad

In the 30-second spot, an unseen narrator calls Neville a “son of Bronzeville and segregated public schools on Chicago’s South Side” who became a “champion for diversity on the bench” over a slideshow of childhood class photos, yearbook photos and another of Neville with former President Barack Obama plays.

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Barack Obama and P. Scott Neville Jr. in undated photo from Neville’s TV ad.

Barack Obama and P. Scott Neville Jr. in undated photo from Neville’s TV ad.

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Sitting Illinois Supreme Court Justice P. Scott Neville Jr. released a new television ad Wednesday, emphasizing that “our Supreme Court should look like all of us.”

The only African American on the state’s top court, Neville was tapped to serve out the rest of former Justice Charles Freeman’s term when the trailblazing jurist retired in 2018.

Now, Neville and six other Democrats are running for a full 10-year term.

In the 30-second spot, an unseen narrator calls Neville a “son of Bronzeville and segregated public schools on Chicago’s South Side” who became a “champion for diversity on the bench” over a slideshow of childhood class photos, yearbook photos and another of Neville with former President Barack Obama plays.

The ad, titled “his voice,” is airing on channels including CBS2, NBC5 and Fox. 

“We can’t risk losing his voice and his vote,” the narrator says. “Our Supreme Court should look like all of us.”

Freeman, the only African American ever elected to the Illinois Supreme Court, died last week. He selected Neville as his replacement.

But now Neville faces stiff competition to retain the seat. Appellate Court Justices Jesse Reyes, Sheldon “Shelly” Harris, Margaret McBride, Cynthia Cobbs and Nathaniel Howse Jr. and lawyer Daniel Epstein are all vying for it. The makeup of the field — Harris, McBride and Epstein are white — has sparked debate over the importance of diversity on the bench. 

Reyes would be the first Latino jurist on the state’s top court.

Harris has flooded the airwaves, spending over $700,000 on ads, which could further threaten Neville’s chances of holding onto the seat.

Hanah Jubeh, a spokeswoman for Neville’s campaign, said the ad allows voters to “have an opportunity to examine the candidates in this race and realize that Justice Neville is the most qualified candidate to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court.”

“I think our plan was always to invest in paid communication and I think as voters are going to the polls to early vote and they have an opportunity to elect a qualified justice who’s currently serving on the court today,” Jubeh said. 

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