October 17, 2021

Bazar Lead

Just Law & Legal

Why a Cuban refugee, BYU scholar, former Utah judge loves Structure

Decide Denise Posse-Blanco Lindberg knows that the legislation — like lifetime — can be sophisticated.

She was born a U.S. citizen in Havana, considering the fact that her mother was Puerto Rican. She was 9 several years outdated when she left Cuba with her family in 1960, after the revolution, fleeing to Puerto Rico with very little but a suitcase complete of photographs and a change of clothes.

A few yrs afterwards, they bought their belongings to make a new begin in New York. That route would direct her to five levels in increased education from the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, including a Juris Doctorate that launched her to her life’s enthusiasm.

In 16 decades as a decide at Utah’s 3rd District Court, she dealt with substantial-profile criminal cases and at minimum 1 special case in point centered on religious liberty, before retiring in 2014. She is now a senior fellow at BYU’s Intercontinental Heart for Law and Religion Scientific tests, where she advocates for religious independence in Latin The us and the Caribbean.

She reread all 4,440 words of the Constitution to prepare for this job interview, and tearfully relayed what it means to her personally as a political refugee. She phone calls the document “a covenant between the persons.”

Deseret Information: How do your childhood experiences in Cuba affect the way you see the regulation?

Denise Posse-Blanco Lindberg: As an individual who has lived in countries the place the rule of law is a wonderful phrase that implies little, it is one thing I benefit deeply.

I watched the Watergate scandal as it happened, and a scenario went via the Supreme Court docket about whether (Richard) Nixon experienced to turn about the recordings produced in the Oval Business. I bear in mind fearing that Nixon would simply call out the Military, for the reason that which is what I was employed to. That is what I’d witnessed. Which is what I’d developed up with: “Might can make suitable.” When he turned over the tapes on the order of the Supreme Court, that is when I fell in love with this region.

DN: You also feel fairly fond of schooling, with a bachelor’s degree in interaction, master’s degrees in social work and academic psychology, a doctorate degree in well being sciences and a law degree. What enthusiastic you to keep going back to college?

DPL: For an immigrant, training is the surest route for progression. And it has been really prioritized in my relatives, practically excessively. Our motto is: Finding out never ever finishes. But I did not set out to get five degrees. My mom usually reported, “Make a prepare for your lifetime but really don’t be wedded to it.” If possibilities present them selves, be adaptable enough to just take benefit of individuals. Which is what I did.

DN: Did your exclusive occupation path shape your choices on the bench?

DPL: A lot of my schooling arrived into participate in working with defendants. I did social work for about 10 several years, striving to support persons with drug and liquor addictions. I realized we had been intervening much too late, so I turned intrigued in preventive operate, which led me to pursue a Ph.D. researching how preventive treatment can prevent difficulties with addiction. Later, as a decide, I experienced an even even larger instrument set and a crew of men and women, and hence a increased capacity to effects somebody’s everyday living.

DN: You clerked for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor at the Supreme Court. How did that expertise impression you?

DPL: I felt the weight of representing Brigham Younger University as the initial woman from the college to clerk at the Supreme Court. All of my co-clerks came from educational institutions like Harvard, Yale and Stanford, and some of them ended up outright geniuses. I didn’t know if I could swim in that pool, and each individual day I imagined I might get fired. In the conclusion, it was amazing to know that I could maintain my very own and master from men and women significantly brighter than myself.

DN: That’s a very long way from traveling around the Caribbean with very little but your clothing. Was there at any time a moment when the gravity of your journey strike home for you?

DPL: Just one day, I was strolling up the Supreme Courtroom actions and, all of the unexpected, I realized it was the 31-yr anniversary of the day I left Cuba. I begun crying simply because I remembered my 9-yr-aged self getting on a airplane wanting to know if I would at any time be back again — and my up coming imagined was, “Now you are in The united states aiding condition the legislation of the land.” I was emotional and confided in Justice O’Connor. It was one particular of the couple periods I saw her get misty-eyed. She acquired up and gave me a hug and reported, “You’re what this country is about.”

DN: I’ve listened to you use the word “covenant” to explain the Structure. Why is that?

DPL: The Structure is a covenant that we as a folks make to govern ourselves. At its greatest, it represents a commitment to build a society that is fair and just. That carefully parallels the society I imagine God would want for us.

Reading through the preamble never fails to move me, pondering of the founders’ religion, have confidence in and motivation to submit of their possess no cost will — not to a king, but to a new system of authorities they have been building. I am not blind to the myriad challenges this place still has to get over. I also know our Constitution is no promise we will do so or that its promise will be fulfilled. But I have religion in the program, however flawed it is.

DN: You are now an advocate for spiritual liberty, which is 1 space where by folks however argue about what the Constitution implies. But you also experienced to navigate individuals questions as a judge. Can you explain to us much more about that?

DPL: As a person of faith, it saddens me when folks say that spiritual liberty is just an justification to discriminate. I do not consider legitimate religion does that. It’s crucial that we chat about religious liberty in loving and civil techniques and recognize how critical it is to guard.

The irony is, I was the judge that for additional than 10 years managed the land trust of a polygamous group in southern Utah, immediately after allegations of mismanagement. The United Effort and hard work Strategy was designed up of land consecrated by users of the Essential LDS Church, and redistributed by their bishop. Soon after Warren Jeffs, their chief, turned a federal fugitive, the condition legal professional typical requested the court to get over the believe in so that Jeffs would not steal from it.

I was very conscious that I was dealing with Initial Amendment difficulties, and I consider the courts have to respect the autonomy of churches. I tried to glimpse at the law and not the doctrine and cautiously draw the line in between spiritual freedom and making use of perception as a blanket excuse for abuse.

DN: Have you at any time returned to Cuba?

DPL: I eventually got the prospect to go again in 2017. Immediately after my spouse and I arrived in Havana and dropped off our baggage, the 1st thing I preferred to do was stroll to my grandmother’s house. I was stunned I was equipped to get us there, but it had been knocked down. Nevertheless, it was a sweet closing of a door.

The town is a gorgeous damage. You can see the skeletons of these gorgeous old, Spanish properties that are just falling apart. It was various plenty of that it did not sense like dwelling, and nevertheless it was common.

This tale seems in the July/August challenge of Deseret Journal. Learn far more about how to subscribe.