Metro Detroit attorney Richard Bernstein, a University alum, returned to his alma mater Thursday evening to speak and field questions from a short panel hosted by the University’s chapter of the College Democrats.

Bernstein is currently a Democratic candidate for a seat on the Michigan Supreme Court. He was born legally blind, and, referencing his campaign slogan of “Blind Justice,” said his campaign is founded upon fairness.

“It is time for our courts to become blind. Blind to partisan politics, blind to special interests, blind to political ideology,” he said. “Fairness is really the key to justice.”

Bernstein is an attorney for the Detroit-area Sam Bernstein Law Firm, where he founded and runs the firm’s Public Services Division. He previously served on the Wayne State University Board of Governors, and his brother, Mark, currently serves on the University’s Board of Regents.

In 2007, Richard Bernstein represented the Paralyzed Veterans of America in a case against the University for failing to provide necessary facilities for disabled spectators. The case resulted in the University spending an estimated $2 million to add wheelchair-accessible seats to Michigan Stadium.

During the hour-long session Thursday, Bernstein highlighted how he would add diversity to the Supreme Court Justice panel if elected.

“When you have a multi-judge panel, you want to have as much unique life experience as possible,” he said. “I think mine will be an asset when we’re having those conversations and making those decisions.”

He added that his experience as a lawyer would be beneficial as a justice.

“The law is a great vehicle for change,” he said. “You can see how law gives a voice to folks who otherwise don’t have one.”

LSA senior Trevor Dolan, chair of the College Democrats, said the group hosted Bernstein because they wanted to help enhance his public presence, among other reasons.

“He’s a really fantastic speaker and he’s also in an incredibly important race that doesn’t get a lot of attention because it is a non-partisan race and on the back of the ballot,” he said.

Bernstein said a major problem facing the Democratic Party in Michigan is the fact that 35 percent of Democratic voters do not complete the entire ballot. The Supreme Court race is a “down-ballot issue,” Bernstein said, and appears on the back of the physical ballot.

Bernstein also referenced his experience finishing 18 marathons and an Ironman Triathlon.

“Athletics helps to shatter a lot of stereotypes and change a lot of perceptions people have of people with disabilities and special needs,” he said.

Music, Theatre & Dance freshman Samuel Koeppe attended the event to support Bernstein’s efforts on behalf of the disabled.

“Both of my parents work for kids with disabilities, so activism for disabilities has always been present in my life and I think it’s a very important topic to be discussed,” he said. “So many people with disabilities have a hard time finding good education and hopefully he can open up doors to make it more accessible.”

Bernstein discussed the Supreme Court justice election process, generally voicing his support for it but identifying one main flaw. Candidates are nominated by their respective parties, but the race is billed as non-partisan and candidates are elected rather than appointed. He said the blurred partisan lines in the election can lead to impropriety in the campaign process.

“It is critical that you go out and spend time with voters,” he said. “The one problem that has to be changed is dark money. PACs can pour tremendous amounts of money into these races and you don’t know where that money is coming from.”

Bernstein also added that social media will be the party’s greatest asset.

“Social media changes how these elections are fought,” he said. “The one chance that we have as Democrats is the fact that even though we’re going to get outspent, we have energy and spirit, and we are going to outwork them.”

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