Former Justices, State Bar Presidents Warn Against Barrow’s Partisan Campaign

May 6, 2024

Press Contact: Heath Garrett Info@georgiansforpinson.com

ATLANTA - Today, 17 former Georgia Supreme Court Justices, State Bar Presidents and JQC Officials penned a letter to express deep concerns about injecting partisan politics into our nonpartisan judicial races. Since day one, John Barrow has expressed his intention to follow his political beliefs rather than the Constitution and laws enacted by our elected representatives. The letter addresses the dangers of such an approach, saying, “a partisan judiciary that is emboldened to put campaign promises and personal preferences above the Constitution… would mean the end of the rule of law.”

Justice Pinson has remained committed to defending the Constitution, upholding the rule of law and maintaining the integrity of our Supreme Court. In the May 21st election, voters will choose between a principled jurist or a partisan activist.

“As judges, we take an oath to remain fair and impartial on every matter that comes before us,” said Justice Pinson. “I take that oath seriously because every Georgian deserves just and equal treatment under the law. Unfortunately, my opponent is running a hyper-partisan campaign based on promising to defy the judicial oath.”

The entirety of the letter may be viewed below.

May 6, 2024 We are former Justices of the Supreme Court of Georgia, past Presidents of the State Bar of Georgia, and former Chairs and Directors of the Judicial Qualifications Commission. We write this letter because we share serious concerns about the future of our state’s judicial system.

Like many other states, Georgia elects the judges of its highest courts. But elected judges are not ordinary politicians. Judicial candidates are required to stand for election as nonpartisans—after all, justice is not partisan—and they are forbidden by judicial ethics law to make public statements and promises about cases and issues that might come before the court to which they seek election. In this country, no one is above the law, so judges too always must follow the law, no matter their personal preferences or those of their political supporters. If it were otherwise—if judges were permitted to campaign on commitments that they would decide particular cases and issues in particular ways—the courts would become just another political institution, and public confidence in our judicial system would quickly erode. The resolution of disputes through a fair process and by an impartial decisionmaker is the essence of the rule of law. No citizen can have confidence that her case will be decided fairly and impartially if the judge made campaign promises about the case or the issues presented in it.

There are several contested judicial races on the ballot for the upcoming May 21 elections, including one for Justice of the Georgia Supreme Court. Voters will have the opportunity to demand that our judges be nonpartisan and refrain from making public commitments about how they will decide cases and issues. The alternative is a partisan judiciary that is emboldened to put campaign promises and personal preferences above the Constitution and the law. The alternative would mean the end of the rule of law, and if our state starts down that path, we fear that it will be very difficult to turn back later.

The stakes on May 21 are high, and we encourage voters to think carefully about the ballots that they will cast in judicial elections.

Former Justices

Former JQC Officials

Past State Bar Presidents