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Blind state Supreme Court judge drives for first time

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Richard Bernstein knows the law. He's a justice on Michigan's Supreme Court. He also drove a car this week without a license. He did have a sheriff sitting right beside him. Justice Bernstein was born blind. He drove that car around a dirt track at the Genesee County Fairgrounds near Flint. Sheriff Chris Swanson offered directions like straighten it out, soft left and slow. Justice apparently doesn't like being told what he can and can't do. As a lawyer, he successfully represented many people with disabilities. He's also run more than 20 marathons. The Justice told TV station WNEM...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RICHARD BERNSTEIN: I've always wanted that feeling of what it's like to hit the gas or what it's like to turn on the ignition and what it's like to operate a steering wheel.

SIMON: Sheriff Swanson helped him drive for two hours. Around that dirt track, the sheriff said, I love seeing joy on the face. Judge Bernstein concluded...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BERNSTEIN: Sheriff, you just got some blind justice.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.