Editor’s Note: The Chicago Defender will profile each of the African American judges running for the Illinois Supreme Court seat in March 2020.
Outstanding quality and highly qualified are just some of the phrases used to describe Justice Nathaniel R. Howse.
Howse is one of three African American judges in the race for Illinois Supreme Court Justice.
The seat was made vacant by the retirement of Charles E. Freeman in 2018. Justice P. Scott Neville, Jr., was appointed to fill the vacancy in 2018.
There is a primary election set for Tuesday, March 17, 2020.
Howse spent 22 years as a lawyer.
“[As a lawyer,] I would pick up what was good judging and bad judging,” he said. “I took that to the bench.”
Howse said a person’s perspective is shaped by their life experiences. And, as a judge you bring that to court.
“I believe in looking out for the rights of the underdog,” he said. “I was born an underdog.”
Howse grew up in the segregated South and attended school there. His parents moved the family to Chicago because they wanted a better life.
“My perspective was forged by watching my parent’s struggle,” he said.
Howse’s father decided to go to Law School. He said he would see his father with his law books. It inspired him.
Howse said the Supreme Court has two very important jobs: the first is to protect the Civil Rights of every individual.
“You have to be sensitive to people,” he said.
Secondly, the Supreme Court is tasked to find replacements when there are vacancies on the bench. And, to appoint an interim replacement. Howse said that person should have certain traits.
“It takes a person who has integrity and honesty and I think I’m the best person to do that,” he said.
Howse also has the support of politicians across Cook County, as well as the State of Illinois, which includes Secretary of State Jesse White; Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL); Willie Wilson; Bishop Byron T. Brazier, pastor of Apostolic Church of God; Bishop Larry Trotter, senior pastor of Sweet Holy Spirit Church; 3rd Ward Alderman Pat Dowell; and 8th Ward Alderman Michelle Harris.
Howse has been rated Highly Qualified by the Chicago Bar Association.
“I’ve always had a reputation of having outstanding integrity,” he said. “You can tell the character of a person when they think nobody is looking.”