Without Precedent: The Life of Susie Marshall Sharp

By Anna R. Hayes | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
AMBITION

Susie Sharp was always disingenuous about her ambition, perhaps even to herself. There is no doubt that initially she had been conflicted about accepting Governor Scott's appointment to the superior court, primarily due to her concerns regarding both her father's health and the short-term nature of the special judge's tenure. But whether or not she had ever aimed for the trial court bench, there is evidence that she had long imagined a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court, although she rarely admitted it.

It was a subject she and Breck had discussed for years, as revealed in a poignant letter to her shortly after her appointment to the superior court in 1949.

Breck's admiration for Susie Sharp never completely obscured his desire to be the dominant partner in their relationship. Part of him was jealous of her achievements. He had once had higher aspirations himself, but he “did not have the drive” to do what was required to achieve them, he wrote to her in September 1949.1 “I shot my longest bow some time back and whatever I might have done, I am pretty well assured of not doing now.” He had come to the realization that she was “on the up” and he was “on the down.” He lamented that he was not even prepared for his class the next day. Reviewing his own failings, he contrasted his waning energies and abilities to her surging career. “Specifically, I think you are headed for the Supreme Court, as I have long said,” he wrote. It is clear that he had envisioned and articulated this unprecedented goal, that she might claim a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court, long before she was even visible on the general public's radar.

Meanwhile, as for Judge Allen Gwyn, he had not relinquished his higher aspirations. When Kerr Scott actually won the gubernatorial election, Gwyn believed that he would be Scott's first supreme court appointee. Not only had he worked hard and efficaciously for Scott during the campaign, but he was a lonely advocate among the superior court judges in his support for the dark

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Without Precedent: The Life of Susie Marshall Sharp
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Illustrations xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part1 5
  • Chapter 1 - Family 7
  • Chapter 2 - Formative Years 20
  • Part II - Pursuit of the Law 33
  • Chapter 3 - University of North Carolina School of Law 35
  • Chapter 4 - False Start 55
  • Chapter 5 - Sharp & Sharp 80
  • Chapter 6 - Politics and Public Life 99
  • Part III - Superior Court (1949–1962) 127
  • Chapter 7 - Appointment to Superior Court 129
  • Chapter 8 - Judge Sharp, Presiding 146
  • Chapter 9 - Ambition 167
  • Chapter 10 - Theory and Practice 184
  • Chapter 11 - The Road to the Supreme Court 209
  • Part IV - North Carolina 247
  • Chapter 12 - Taking the Veil 249
  • Chapter 13 - Opinions 274
  • Chapter 14 - Federal Job Proposals 298
  • Chapter 15 - Out of Court 319
  • Chapter 16 - Chief Justice Election 336
  • Chapter 17 - Chief Justice 367
  • Chapter 18 - Equal Rights Amendment 389
  • Chapter 19 - Stepping off the Stage 406
  • Epilogue 431
  • A Note on Sources 439
  • Notes 441
  • Selected Bibliography 521
  • Acknowledgments 531
  • Index 533
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