Who will be the next Supreme Court justice? An American Indian has never served on the highest court in the land, but there is a great chance this could change. John EchoHawk is on the list of candidates. He is included in The Nation’s slideshow of nine potential people who could likely be the next justice. The Nation describes EchoHawk as “a legendary lawyer who has run the Native American Rights Fund for more than thirty years, would bring a perspective to the court that has been overlooked for 230 years.”
President Obama is set to replace retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.
While I was a journalism student at the University of Colorado in Boulder, I had the privelege of interning at the Native American Rights Fund where EchoHawk was — and still is — the executive director. He helped found the organization, a pro-Native advocacy law firm. EchoHawk is the older brother of Larry EchoHawk, the current head of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. The brothers are Pawnees from Oklahoma.
EchoHawk is one of the most the level-headed, respected, uncontroversial leaders I’ve seen in the last decade while working as a reporter covering Indian Country. So, will the United States of America finally have an indigenous person on the High Court?
“If you think it’s not important then why has the court been dominated by white men?” said Louis Gray in a column almost one year ago. ”And only when the political muscles were flexed did the court see an African American and women seated to the court of courts. It’s not unusual for an Indian to be seated, it’s time and it’s right.”
Gray also adds: “EchoHawk is the Cool Hand Luke of big time Indian lawyers. Unshakeable and deliberate in all his decisions, EchoHawk never rattles under the most intense pressure. He is a man who has not served as justice but that is not a prerequisite. In fact some would say he has not record to destroy or to pin him down on. But, he is a first class constitutional lawyer. You can’t debate the Native American in the highest court in the land without understanding the constitution. He has no peer.”