Kentucky chief justice speaks at WKU during Constitution Week


Arthur Trickett-Wile

Chief Justice John D. Minton of the Kentucky Supreme Court (2nd District) holds an open discussion session with a group of WKU students in Grise Hall on Tuesday afternoon, Sept. 14, 2021, to kick off a series of campus events scheduled for the annual Constitution Week.

Michael Crimmins, News reporter

To celebrate Constitution Week, WKU invited John Minton, Kentucky chief justice, and WKU alumni to speak to students.

Sept. 17 marks the 234th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. WKU has been celebrating Constitution week for several years. 

Minton is the son of John Minton Sr., who was a history professor at WKU before becoming the university’s fifth president.

Minton was elected to the Supreme Court in 2006, where he was appointed chief justice in 2008. Minton was re-elected for the fourth time in 2020. He is only the second chief justice in Kentucky to be elected for four terms, but Minton said he will not seek a fifth re-election once his term expires.

He was awarded the Outstanding Judge Award in 2003 by the bar association and was inducted into the WKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2013.

The room, GH 130, was packed with students eager to hear the chief justice speak. After being relocated to a bigger room, Minton held an informal question-and-answer session lasting an hour.

The session covered topics from racial inequalities to artificial intelligence deciding court case outcomes.

The topic of equality quickly became one of the focuses of the session.

He sought to “provide equal justice for all and are aware of the diversity issues in the Commonwealth,” Saundra Ardrey, coordinator for Political Engagement said.

One of Minton’s stated goals is to invest in people of the Commonwealth to make justice an attainable goal for all. Under his leadership, the court system has been unified under the supreme court. 

“[It’s] something a handful of states are doing,” Minton said. “It created a single chief justice who is the administrative head over courts from across the Commonwealth. I have 120 branches to head over.” 

A popular topic among students was the idea of justices’ political affiliations. 

When running for the office, the candidate is not allowed to accept the endorsement of either party nor their donations. Nor should the candidate publicly state his/her affiliations. 

Without stating his own opinions, Minton said that the philosophies of the justices are important to people. 

“You don’t want to vote for someone with different philosophies,” Minton said.

News reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @michael_crimm