Bethel Gets Broad Bipartisan Support For Supreme Court Seat

This is a surprise race for the Georgia Supreme Court, in that the challenger to Justice Charlie Bethel intended to qualify for a different race. Beth Beskin had planned on competing against John Barrow for a seat being vacated by Justice Keith Blackwell.

Due to a quirk in Georgia elections law – a law upheld by Georgia’s Supreme Court – that election will now be held in 2022. In the interim, Governor Kemp will have the opportunity to appoint Blackwell’s successor.

While Beskin and Barrow both sued to be able to qualify for an election that was cancelled, Beskin also took the step to qualify in a different race. This brings us to next month’s elections for Supreme Court. Judicial races in Georgia are placed on all primary ballots, but are non-partisan and decided either on the day of the primary or after a summer runoff if required.

Both Bethel and Beskin are former Republican legislators, with Justice Bethel formerly representing the Dalton area in the Senate and Beskin having represented Buckhead in the State House. I know, like, and respect both of them.

I’ll also confess that I wanted to see Beskin on the 2018 statewide ballot, just to emphasize my respect for her is high. I don’t see the denied opportunity for a judicial election as a reason to remove Justice Bethel from the Supreme Court, however.

Bethel has been part of an overt move to bring Georgia’s highest courts out of the realm of legal ivory towers and into one that can be understood by everyday Georgians. One example from his days on the Court of Appeals was in a dissent in a ruling on an improper search.

The case involved police entering a backyard party without a warrant nor without knocking on the front door of the home in order to make a drug arrest for someone smoking marijuana. Bethel in what became known as the “mullet doctrine” argued that police had a duty to conduct business in the front before going to the party in the back.

Bringing a direct, approachable, and easy to understand temperament (and an occasional bit of humor) to Georgia’s highest court is a move that voters should ratify next month. That’s not just my opinion. It’s one that is shared by a long list of notable Georgians, on the left and the right.

They include Governor Brian Kemp, who wants Bethel to keep on chopping, and Lt. Governor Geoff Duncan. Former Governor Nathan Deal, who originally appointed Bethel to the Court of Appeals and then to the Supreme Court, maintains his support. Former Governor Roy Barnes, the most recent Democrat to occupy the Governor’s mansion and someone who knows “a bit” about the practice of law himself, as well as Jason Carter – also a lawyer and former Democratic nominee for Governor, back Bethel.

DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond and Senator Jen Jordan bring a left-of-center, urban/suburban blessing of Bethel remaining on the Court. Notables such as Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and Southwest Georgia’s PSC Commissioner Jason Shaw anchor the conservative/rural flank.

In an era of divided partisan politics, the list of endorsements Bethel has amassed from all corners of Georgia’s political spectrum are an accomplishment in itself as well as a testament to the respect he has garnered in his short time on the court.

I wish Beth Beskin well in a potential future race, a truly do. For this race, however, I’m giving my vote to Charlie Bethel.

A list of Bethel’s endorsements (per April 29th and May 20th press releases) is as follows:

Gov. Brian Kemp

Gov. Nathan Deal

Gov. Roy Barnes

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan

Sen. Jason Carter, Former Democratic Nominee for Governor

DeKalb County CEO Mike Thurmond

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black

PSC Commissioner Jason Shaw

Sam Olens, Former Attorney General

Mike Bowers, Former Attorney General

Congressman Buddy Carter, District 1

Congressman Barry Loudermilk, District 11

Congressman Tom Graves, District 14

Sen. Lester Jackson, District 2

Sen. William Ligon, District 3

Sen. Jen Jordan, District 6

Sen. Tyler Harper, District 7

Sen. PK Martin, District 9

Sen. Dean Burke, District 11

Sen. Freddie Powell Sims, District 12

Sen. Bruce Thompson, District 14

Sen. Ed Harbison, District 15

Sen. John Kennedy, District 18

Sen. Blake Tillery, District 19

Sen. Harold Jones,  District 22

Sen. Jesse Stone, District 23

Sen. Burt Jones, District 25

Sen. Mike Dugan, District 30

Sen. Michael ‘Doc’ Rhett, District 33

Sen. Lindsey Tippins, District 37

Sen. Steve Henson, District 41

Sen. Elena Parent, District 42

Sen. Butch Miller, District 49

Sen. Steve Gooch, District 51

Sen. Jeff Mullis, District 53

Sen. Chuck Payne, District 54

Sen. John Albers, District 56

Rep. Kasey Carpenter, District 4

Rep. Jason Ridley, District 6

Rep. Rick Jasperse, District 11

Rep. Wes Cantrell, District 22

Rep. Bert Reeves, District 34

Rep. Teri Anulewicz, District 42

Rep. Micah Gravley, District 67

Rep. Demetrius DouglasDistrict 78

Rep. Scott Holcomb, District 81

Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick, District 93

Rep. Terry England, District 116

Rep. Houston Gaines, District 117

Rep. Berry Fleming, District 121

Rep. Bob Trammel, District 132

Rep. Richard Smith, District 134

Rep. James Beverly, District 143

Stacey Evans, Former Representative

Meagan Hanson, Former Representative

Edward Lindsey, Former Representative

Ronnie Mabra, Former Representative

Chad Nimmer, Former Representative

Sheriff Jud Smith, Barrow County

Sheriff Clarke Millsap, Bartow County   

Sheriff David Davis, Bibb County

Sheriff Josh Hilton, Calhoun County

Sheriff Steve Thomas, Franklin County

Sheriff Mitch Ralston, Gordon County

Sheriff Donni Harrison, Greene County

Sheriff Joey Terrell, Habersham County

Sheriff Gerald Couch, Hall County

Sheriff Brad White, Lamar County

Sheriff Stacy Jarrard, Lumpkin County

Sheriff Brad Freeman, Monroe County

Sheriff Gary Langford, Murray County

Sheriff Ramsey Bennett, Pierce County

Sheriff Danny Brannen, Pulaski County

Sheriff Joe Chapman, Walton County

Sheriff Howard Sills, Putnam County

Sheriff Shane Tondee, Schley County

Sheriff Darrell Dix, Spalding County

Sheriff Randy Shirley, Stephens County

Sheriff Jeff Watson, Taylor County

Sheriff Gene Scarbrough, Tift County

Sheriff Mack Mason, Union County

Sheriff Dan Kilgore, Upson County

Sheriff Steve Wilson, Walker County

Sheriff Joe Chapman, Walton County

Sheriff Randy Dely, Webster County

Sheriff Randy Rigdon, Wheeler County

Sheriff Neal Walden, White County

Sheriff Scott Chitwood, Whitfield County

Sheriff Don Whitaker, Worth County

DA Tom Durden, Atlanta District

DA Jackie Johnson, Brunswick District

DA Richard Mallard, Ogeechee District

DA Dick Perryman, Alapaha District

DA Brad Shealy, Southern District

DA George Hartwig, Houston District

DA Lewis Lamb, South Western District

DA Sherry Boston, Stone Mountain District

DA Herb Cranford, Coweta District

DA Darius Pattillo, Flint District

DA Rosemary Greene, Cherokee District

DA Bert Poston, Conasauga District

DA Buzz Franklin, Lookout Mountain District

DA Hayward Altman, Middle District

DA Tim Vaughn, Oconee District

DA Allison Sosebee,  Appalachian District

DA Daniel Porter, Gwinnett District

Mayor Hardie Davis, Augusta

Add a Comment