(WXYZ) — Michigan Supreme Court Justice Richard Bernstein is opening up about serving remotely on the bench during the COVID-19 pandemic while traveling overseas to advocate for those with disabilities.
For Justice Bernstein, the past couple of months have been a chance to serve the people of Michigan remotely while also pushing for global awareness, surrounding a topic that’s near & dear to his heart.
“Since nothing is being done in person, there’s no events, discussions, or meetings with anybody, you know my perception was why not be in a place where you can do something exciting that could make a difference and have an impact,” says Justice Bernstein.
Speaking with us by phone, Justice Bernstein is reflecting on a journey that he calls life-changing. During the COVID-19 pandemic as he and other justices have all been working remotely, he’s been spending his personal time meeting with leaders and community groups in Dubai.
While advocating and raising awareness about disability rights, he says he’s been able to share his personal experiences as a blind man with countless other people.
“What I actually do is go to these different places, show them possibilities that they never thought of and people say to themselves wait a minute, I never realized this could happen,” he says.
Taking his story on the road, Justice Bernstein tells us the time difference has allowed him to perform his duties for the court, and also have incredible discussions and do interviews that could impact change.
He adds, “We’ve created a new energy and a new excitement for people with disabilities and countries all over the world have asked if I would be willing to help work them on re-writing their constitutions, and on working on legislation.”
Well, travel restrictions have also been a factor during his time away, he says he’s been humbled by the good-natured people he’s met in their desire to work together. He tells us part of his time is also devoted to strengthening relations between Arab countries & Israel as a Jewish man.
“I’ve moved on to Tel Aviv. I have a mission and I’m trying to finish up this mission. As soon as the mission is complete, then I’ll be home or when things are done in person. If we ever have an in-person court I’ll be there. In-person,” says Justice Bernstein.
He adds, close relationships that have formed on this trip, are something he treasures and he’s eager to continue advocating for those with disabilities as much as his schedule allows.