Georgia Supreme Court Justice Fends Off Challenger Who Made Abortion Rights a Focus


The incumbent in the lone competitive race for a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court won re-election on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press, fending off a challenge from a former Democratic congressman who had built his campaign in the nonpartisan contest on protecting abortion rights.

Elections for the Supreme Court in Georgia are typically subdued affairs, drawing little attention, much less stirring controversy, as justices rarely face any serious opposition. Such was the case for the three other justices on the ballot on Tuesday, whose elections were uncontested.

But Justice Andrew A. Pinson was in the unusual position of having to fight to defend his seat after John Barrow, who represented Georgia in Congress as a Democrat from 2005 to 2015, entered the race.

During the campaign, Mr. Barrow said that Georgia’s Constitution guaranteed the right to an abortion, which, he argued, was not a political position but simply his interpretation of the law. Last year, the State Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s law banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, though a legal fight is ongoing.

The challenge from Mr. Barrow pushed Justice Pinson and his supporters to mobilize an effort that was costly and high-profile, at least by the standards of a State Supreme Court race. Justice Pinson sought to portray Mr. Barrow as a threat to an independent judiciary, arguing that voting for his opponent was tantamount to endorsing “a system of partisan politicians in black robes.”

“I have upheld my oath to defend our Constitution,” Justice Pinson said in a news conference on Monday. “I have approached every case that comes before us with an open mind, fairly and impartially,” he added. “And I’ve applied the law as it’s written, not as it should be, not as we want it to be.”

Justice Pinson was appointed to the court by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2022 to serve out the remainder of his predecessor’s term, and he has now won his own six-year term. Before he joined the State Supreme Court, Justice Pinson served on the State Court of Appeals, and was also appointed to that post by Mr. Kemp, a Republican.

He had been the state’s solicitor general and worked for Attorney General Christopher M. Carr, a Republican. Earlier in his career, Justice Pinson was a U.S. Supreme Court clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas.

Mr. Barrow challenged the depiction of him as a partisan operator, noting that Justice Pinson had surrounded himself with Republican elected officials, like Mr. Kemp, and conservative political groups in his re-election effort.

“It’s not a partisan race, so I have not sought the endorsement of partisan politicians,” Mr. Barrow told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Though I see that doesn’t apply to my opponent. He is obviously trying to make it a partisan race.”



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