ATLANTA — Attorney and former Congressman John Barrow announced Monday his candidacy for the seat on the Georgia Supreme Court currently held by retiring Justice Robert Benham. The nonpartisan election will take place at the same time as next year’s general primary election, on May 19.
“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 announcing his plans. “When Justice 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 also announced that former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Evans will serve as his campaign chairwoman, and that former Judicial Nomination Commission Chairman Pete Robinson will serve as his campaign treasurer.
“I’m thrilled to chair John Barrow’s campaign for the Georgia Supreme Court,” Evans said. “I’ve known and respected John for years as a dedicated public servant and a smart and hard-working lawyer. I know he will be a fair and thoughtful judge, and Georgia will be better for his continued leadership.”
Barrow learned at an early age the impact that the law has on society. His father was the Superior Court judge who desegregated the public schools in Clarke County in a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Barrow was in the first class to go all the way through the integrated Clarke Central High School.
Barrow is an honor graduate of the University of Georgia and was one of the youngest members of his class at Harvard Law School, where he counted former U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold and Chief Justice John Roberts as classmates.
After clerking for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits, Barrow has represented more Georgians, in more ways, than anyone else now sitting on the Georgia Supreme Court.
For 23 years, Barrow earned his living as a lawyer in private practice, almost twice as long as any other member of the Court.
Barrow has also used his training and experience to represent his community and state outside the courtroom. Barrow served for 14 years as a county commissioner in Athens-Clarke County, only the second consolidated government in Georgia’s history. After his service in local government, Barrow served 10 years in Congress. In a highly partisan age, Barrow earned a reputation as the most bipartisan member of Congress. He regularly earned the endorsements of such representatives of the business community as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the National Federation of Independent Business.
One of the purposes of a multimember court is to provide geographical balance on the court. Currently, only 2 justices come from south of the fall line, and none comes from east of I-75 and north of I-16. Barrow would be the only justice from this entire half of the state, and he has already represented more of south Georgia than anyone else serving on the court.
After his service in Congress, Barrow taught at the University of Georgia, and served as a volunteer attorney for the Atlanta Legal Aid Society and Legal Aid of Cobb County in Marietta.
Barrow and his wife, Angèle, have five children and four grandchildren. They attend the First Baptist Church of Athens and divide their time between their home in Atlanta and his great-great-great-grandfather’s home in Athens.