Beskin and Barrow both wanted to run for Blackwell's seat, but they were turned away by elections officials. Beskin has filed instead to run against Justice Charlie Bethel. But both would-be contenders for Blackwell's seat filed suit, arguing that just because Blackwell intended to resign didn't mean his seat was vacant already.
In a decision returned Monday, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Emily Richardson said the seat was legally vacant, citing the same line of Georgia law used by an attorney from the Georgia Attorney General’s Office representing the state in the case.
A section of Georgia law says a state office is vacated as the result of seven different scenarios, including "by resignation, when accepted." Gov. Brian Kemp has accepted Blackwell's resignation, so even though he is still writing opinions and hearing cases for the next eight months, the seat is legally vacant.
Attorneys for both plaintiffs plan to appeal the case. Lester Tate, a lawyer for Barrow, said he wasn’t surprised by the ruling, but found it “seriously flawed” because it cited an internal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office.
“An unofficial AG’s opinion is no more than an interoffice memo and it should not trump the Constitution or the ability of the people to elect a supreme court justice,” Tate said in a statement.