The North Carolina Council for the Social Studies held their 2019 conference in Greensboro on February 28 - March 1. Senior Associate Justice Paul Newby and Associate Justice Sam Ervin were selected to address approximately 40 social studies teachers during a one-hour session of the conference. Justices Newby and Ervin head the Judicial Branch civics education outreach and Speakers Bureau programs. The Judicial Branch Speakers Bureau was a conference vendor to share its curriculum and offer its volunteers as classroom speakers to conference attendees.
During their session, Justices Newby and Ervin gave general remarks and held a question and answer period where they shared about the role of the Judicial Branch, the structure of the court system, and the duties of Supreme Court justices.
“It is up to the Supreme Court to fairly, consistently, and impartially apply the law across our state. Everyone is entitled to have their case heard without prejudicial error,” Justice Newby explained to the group.
Justice Ervin echoed these remarks in recalling an admonition from his father about the seriousness of working as a judge.
“Behind each and every one of these cases is one or more people whose life you are going to permanently affect by what you do,” Justice Ervin recalled.
In addition to affecting the parties of each case, both Justices acknowledged that the Supreme Court has an important role to play in the function of government and protection of individual liberty.
“We do our dead-level best to ensure that people are treated equally under the law, because it is confidence in the rule of law that keeps our society from being a totalitarian system,” said Justice Ervin.
“Be aware that every time government acts our individual freedoms decrease, and at what point do we give up too much liberty. These are things that we need to wrestle with daily or ‘we the people’ may become ‘we the government,’” said Justice Newby.
The Justices finished their time with conference attendees by shaking hands, posing for photos, and sharing general words of encouragement.