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John Barrow Will Run for Georgia Supreme Court

Former congressman John Barrow of Athens will run for an open seat on the Georgia Supreme Court, he announced today.

An appellate court depends on the combined experience of its judges to arrive at decisions that are fair and just,” Barrow said in a news release. When Justice [Robert] Benham retires, the Supreme Court will lose almost as much experience as the rest of the Court combined.  That’s why I’m running—to offer my experience to help maintain the kind of balance we want in our Supreme Court.”

Barrow’s father, James, was a Superior Court judge in Athens and oversaw the desegregation of the local school system.

John Barrow graduated from UGA and Harvard Law School, and clerked at two federal appeals courts before opening a private law practice in Athens.

He served as an Athens-Clarke County commissioner from 1991–2004. That year, he was elected to Congress, where the Democrat earned a reputation as a moderate who could work across the aisle.  Republicans gerrymandered his district twice, forcing him to move to Savannah, then Augusta, before finally defeating him in 2014.

Since then, Barrow has returned to private practice, taught at UGA and volunteered for legal clinics. He was the Democratic nominee for secretary of state last year, coming closer to winning than any other statewide Democrat on the ballot. 

Former state Rep. Stacey Evans, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2018, will serve as Barrow’s campaign chairwoman. His treasurer is Pete Robinson, a former chairman of the Judicial Nomination Commission—a body that recommended Barrow for a seat on the state Court of Appeals in 1999.

In the news release, Barrow argued that because of his experience in local government and Congress, he has “represented more Georgians in more ways than anyone currently serving on the Georgia Supreme Court.” In particular, he noted that he would be the only justice living in East Georgia and who’s represented South Georgia.

Benham, the first African American to serve on the state Supreme Court, is retiring next year after 21 years on the bench. Court of Appeals Judge Sara Doyle, a conservative, is also running for the seat. The nonpartisan race will be decided next May, on the same date as partisan primaries.