Anne Burke Sworn in to State's Supreme Court

By Rummana Hussain
Chicago Sun-Times [Illinois]
July 7, 2006

Anne Burke was sworn in Thursday as the state Supreme Court's newest member during an hourlong ceremony packed with local powerbrokers, including former Gov. James R. Thompson, who was instrumental in starting Burke's judicial career when he appointed her to the Court of Claims in 1987.

"I become No. 7, the junior justice of the court, and I know exactly where I am to sit in the dining room of the Supreme Court," Burke said to the laughing crowd after she took the oath of office in a packed Daley Center courtroom. Her husband, Ald. Ed Burke (14th), stood by her side as her new colleague, Justice Charles Freeman, swore her in.

Anne Burke -- the third woman to sit on the Illinois Supreme Court and most recently a member of the Illinois Appellate Court -- is replacing retired Justice Mary Ann McMorrow, who was the first woman to serve on the state's highest court.

Anne Burke, 62, called McMorrow a "friend, mentor and kindred soul" who blazed the trail for female lawyers. "She has always been my hero," she said, smiling at McMorrow.

'Compassionate,' 'determined'

The event, emceed by Emmy-winning broadcaster Bill Kurtis, attracted everyone from Bishop Timothy Lyne and the Rev. James Meeks to state House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago) and former Gov. Jim Edgar.

Those making remarks touched on Anne Burke's work with mentally disabled and disadvantaged children and her tenure with the state's child welfare agency.

"She is very compassionate, and she's also very determined. That's a pretty good combination for anyone in public service," Edgar said.

The former Chicago Park District gym teacher returned the compliment, telling the audience, including her three grown children and youngest son, Travis, they were crucial in shaping her destiny. She told her fellow Supreme Court judges, "I only hope I can bring much honor to the court as you have."

Anne Burke, who is credited with founding the Chicago Special Olympics and who chaired the lay panel that investigated sexual abuse allegations against clerics in the Catholic Church, spoke of the challenges of graduating from law school at age 40 and her drive to assist the most vulnerable.

She served on the Appellate Court for 11 years. Her Supreme Court term runs until the 2008 elections.


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