Justice Andrew Pinson says ‘Georgia does not want a politicized judiciary’

The Georgia Supreme Court justice joined ‘Politically Georgia’ on Wednesday following his reelection

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson hopes his primary victory sent a message.

“I hope that the message that comes out of this is Georgia is not ready to have and does not want a politicized judiciary like we’ve seen in a lot of these other states,” Pinson said after winning his nonpartisan race on Tuesday.

Pinson joined the hosts of “Politically Georgia” on Wednesday morning. He was the only justice on Georgia’s highest court who faced a challenger this election cycle.

Back in 2022, he was appointed by Gov. Brian Kemp to replace David E. Nahmias on the court. Kemp also endorsed Pinson in the run-up to Tuesday’s primary. This will be Pinson’s first full six-year term.

Pinson faced former U.S. Rep John Barrow, who conceded defeat in a call to the justice.

“I had an opponent who had significant name ID in, in a large part of the state,” the 37-year-old Pinson said.

“We ended up coming out and winning by double digits based on messaging from my campaign that I’m just going to do this job fairly and impartially,” he said. “That I’m not going to go down that, that sort of political road.”

Barrow centered his campaign on protecting abortion rights. But he was told by the Judicial Qualifications Commission to refocus his campaign away from the issue, as a pending challenge to Georgia’s anti-abortion legislation is likely to again make its way to the state Supreme Court.

Barrow sued several commission members, claiming they were interfering with his First Amendment rights. However, a federal judge did not rule in his favor.

“Every election race is the sum of so many variables,” political strategist Stephen Lawson said while discussing Barrow’s platform. “I think the abortion issue is certainly a galvanizing issue on the left and on the center-left. But it cannot win you a statewide race in Georgia alone.”

No incumbent Georgia justice has lost an election in more than a century.

Most justices are appointed to the bench, run as incumbents and step down before their term ends.

“Incumbency matters. This is usually a relatively low-information election. You’re not going to have the full electorate here,” Emory University political scientist Andra Gillespie said.

If Barrow had won the election, his seat on the Georgia Supreme Court would not have changed its conservative majority.

“I don’t have a political position on any issues,” Pinson said. “I’m going to listen to the, to the advocates and their briefing and their arguments, and we’re going to make the best decision as a court in terms of what we think the law is.”

“I’m just grateful that I get to keep doing the job that I’m doing,” he said, “and hopefully (I’m) doing it the right way.”

Thursday on ”Politically Georgia”: We’re diving into your questions about the economy with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Michael Kanell and J. Scott Trubey. Leave us a voicemail at 770-810-5297 about how inflation is affecting you, and we’ll respond to your questions and comments.