Democratic North Carolina Senate candidate Cheri Beasley speaks at an election night event hosted by the North Carolina Democratic Party after winning her primary race in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Republican Ted Budd will face Beasley in North Carolina’s Senate race in November 2022. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown) Cheri Beasley
Democratic North Carolina Senate candidate Cheri Beasley speaks at an election night event hosted by the North Carolina Democratic Party after winning her primary race in Raleigh, N.C., Tuesday, May 17, 2022. Republican Ted Budd will face Beasley in North Carolina’s Senate race in November 2022. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

The former chief justice of North Carolina’s Supreme Court is in a nail-bitingly close race for the U.S. Senate this fall. 

We’ll all be hearing a lot about and from Democrat Cheri Beasley in her race for the U.S. Senate against Republican Ted Budd in North Carolina. 

And, unfortunately, a lot of what we’ll hear will come in the form of TV ads and how other people define her. 

That’s a part of politics but it’s often misleading. 

So, without the spin, here are 10 things you should know about Cheri Beasley. Beasley has had a groundbreaking legal career — one respected by both conservative and progressive jurists — before running for U.S. Senate, including:

1. She was a public defender.

This means she took on the hardest of cases to serve people who otherwise would not have had a lawyer.

2. She was the first Black woman to serve in a statewide office in NC.

In other words, her 2008 election to the North Carolina Court of Appeals was historic. 

Cheri Beasley
In this 2020 file photo, N.C. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley swears in Presidential electors of North Carolina’s Electoral College. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome, File)

3. Her opinion played a major part in the rights of juvenile defendants.

As reported by The Assembly, a Beasley opinion as an appellate judge influenced a pivotal U.S. Supreme Court decision protecting the rights of juveniles held in custody, J.D.B v. North Carolina.

4. She served on North Carolina’s highest court.

Beasley was appointed to the North Carolina Supreme Court from 2012 to 2020 by Gov. Beverly Perdue.

5. She made history on the N.C. Supreme Court.

Beasley became the first Black Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court after being appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper in 2019.

Cheri Beasley
Former NC Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (center), was the first Black woman to serve as the top judge on North Carolina’s high court. (Photo from Beasley campaign).

6. State court employees can thank her for their benefits.

As chief justice, Beasley implemented paid family leave for the court system’s 6,000 employees. 

7. The court system became a little more accessible under Beasley’s watch.

As chief justice, she implemented a new e-filing court system. Considering the danger of in-person visits during the pandemic, public health leaders could get behind this one.

8. She lost by a historically small margin in 2020.

In the 2020 election, Beasley lost her re-election for the N.C. Supreme Court by only about 400 votes to Paul Newby. In the days after the election, the lead flipped back and forth as election officials counted all the ballots.

9. She struck a profound tone on racial justice after George Floyd.

In the wake of George Floyd’s murder by a Minneapolis police officer in 2020, Beasley held a news conference and urged people to listen to what demonstrators were saying.

“The young people who are protesting everyday have made clear that they do not intend to live in a world in which they are denied justice and equality like the generations before them,” she said, according to the News & Observer.

10. As a judge, Beasley said her role was to be fair and impartial.

In May, she told The Assembly: “My path was really to uphold the rule of law, to take my oath very seriously and to really have the values that have been instilled in me all of my life, hard work and service and appreciating my obligation to the communities around me.”