Education and career
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, Parker attended Meredith College, graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an Education degree and served with the Peace Corps in Turkey from 1964 to 1966 before returning to Chapel Hill to earn a Law degree (1969). After working in private law practice for 15 years, Parker was named by Governor Jim Hunt to the North Carolina Court of Appeals in late 1984. Voters elected and re-elected her to that Court in 1986 and 1990.
Parker was elected by the people to the state's Supreme Court in November 1992. After she lost a bid for re-election to a full term in 1994, she was reappointed to another seat by Hunt. She was elected to a regular 8-year term on the court in 1996. In 2004, Parker was elected to another eight-year term on the court, defeating John M. Tyson in the statewide judicial elections.
On January 19, 2006, Governor Mike Easley announced that he was appointing Parker Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, to replace the retiring I. Beverly Lake. Parker took the oath of office on February 6, becoming the third female Chief Justice of North Carolina's highest court, after Susie Sharp and Rhoda Billings.
At the time of her appointment, former Justice Robert F. Orr, a Republican and executive director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law, was quoted in the Charlotte Observer calling Parker "probably one of the more conservative justices that has been on the court in a good long while.... She's going to be reluctant to go out on a limb.... My sense is that you would find very few cases that were close to the line where she favored criminal defendants." Parker calls herself a moderate conservative. "I tend to stick very closely to precedent and the intent of the legislature as expressed in the language of the statute," she said in that article.
Parker decided to run for a full term as Chief Justice in the November 2006 election. Although judicial races in North Carolina are non-partisan, Parker was backed by the North Carolina Democratic Party.
Parker stepped down from the court on August 31, 2014, after she reached the state's mandatory retirement age for judges. Governor Pat McCrory appointed Mark Martin, the court's senior Associate Justice, to replace her through the 2014 election.
I. Beverly Lake, Jr.
|Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court
2006 - 2014
- Reprint of Charlotte Observer article on Peace Corps Online
- News & Observer
- "Sarah Parker". Charlotte, North Carolina: NC Women's Conference. 2012. Archived from the original on November 26, 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2015.
- WRAL: NC's chief justice hears final cases
- Governor will appoint Justice Mark Martin chief justice
- "Notable Former Volunteers / Government". Peace Corps official site. Accessed January 5, 2007.
- Official Campaign Site
- Official North Carolina Supreme Court biography of Justice Parker
- North Carolina Supreme Court official page
- News & Observer "Under the Dome" Profile