TAKING THE VEIL
The morning after she was sworn in, she reported for her first day at work as an associate justice. Her attention was diverted, however, by a furor in the press over issues related to her appointment.
Most distressing for Justice Sharp was an article on the front page of the News and Observer in which the lead paragraph read, “Judge Susie Sharp, the first woman ever to become a justice of the State Supreme Court, believes that the average woman's place is in the home.”1 The story was picked up by newspapers all over the country and as far away as Puerto Rico and Germany. Many people sent her copies of a version that appeared as a “Special” to the New York Times.2 Written by reporter Roy Parker Jr., the News and Observer article gave the impression that the quote was from an interview he conducted with the newly appointed justice. In fact, alone among the newspapers of statewide circulation, the News and Observer had not contacted her.3 Judge Sharp had never met Parker, who took his quotes from a 1952 story by a reporter in New Bern, North Carolina, which had run in the Raleigh paper.4 In that purported interview, which Judge Sharp did not recall, she was quoted regarding her opinion on women in political office. “Judge Sharp seriously doubts that women will seek political office to any considerable extent, but she thinks many of them are capable of filling high office,” the article read. “'I wouldn't hesitate to vote for a woman for governor or for president,' she says, 'if the right woman ran for the job. However, I'm of the opinion that the average woman's field is in the home, as a wife and mother.'”
The words may have been particularly ill-chosen or even inaccurately quoted, but they manifested her genuine belief that women, unlike men, could not manage both a job and a family. It was a view that, despite her denials, she expressed similarly in other times and places. Indeed, in an interview with another News and Observer reporter later in the week, when asked about “the age-old conflict of career versus marriage,” she declared, “You