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Girls Need Role Models Too!!

By Josie Duda

Last year, I went to Winthrop University to hear a S.C. Supreme Court case. The first thing I noticed when I saw the judges was that there were no women! 

This made me sad because I always thought it’d be a fun job to be a lawyer or judge. I felt pushed down that the judges and lawyers arguing the case were only men. 

I went home and researched it. I found that in all the 233 years of the S.C. Supreme Court, only two women have ever been on it. More than half of S.C. is female, but none of the five Justices are. I learned that S.C. is the only US state without a woman on our Supreme Court! That does not seem right. 

What I Did About It

So, I wrote a petition. People signed it who also wanted more women in places of power alongside men. I got lots of signatures – at school, in Girls on the Run, and around the community. I sent the petition and two letters to S.C. Senator Michael Johnson. 

Senator Johnson wrote me back a long letter with many arguments about why a woman was not chosen to fill the open seat in 2023 or in the past. He also wrote, “Ultimately, I do not look at a person’s race or gender when deciding who to vote for – I try to pick the person best suited for the Court.” I felt like he was telling me that women don’t need to be on the S.C. Supreme Court. 

Meeting a Real-Life Superhero

When I heard recently that former S.C. Supreme Court Justice Kaye Hearn would speak at The Riley Institute at Furman University, I wanted to go. 

She was even better than I expected. She talked about how unfair it is that the male-to-female ratio isn’t equal. She had a really good way with words. 

I was interested in everything she said. I was excited when she and I said the same thing! In my letter to Senator Johnson, I wrote: “It’s having people with different experiences – men and women – who have ideas about what is best for the people of S.C. Yes, men have different opinions from one another but you need all different opinions from many different people, male and female, to find what is right.”

Lessons Learned

What was I most surprised to learn? Justice Hearn, and Senator Johnson, said that normally, the most experienced candidate is chosen for the open Justice seat. But even when Kaye Hearn was the most experienced, they told her that it “wasn’t her time” because there already was a woman on the S.C. Supreme Court. She didn’t make it until her third try. I wonder, since there already were three men on the court, how come they didn’t tell the man going for the seat that it wasn’t his time? It was confusing to me that the best candidate was not chosen just because another woman was on the court. 

After Justice Hearn spoke, I got to meet her. She was very kind. When someone asked me a question, she turned to me and listened to what I had to say. It made me feel important that someone as amazing as her cared what I had to say. 

So now that I have met Justice Hearn, my dream seems more realistic. Maybe one day I will become a lawyer or judge! 


Josie Duda is a 6th grader at Gold Hill Middle School in Fort Mill, S.C. She became interested in arguing and justice because she has two older brothers.

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