Next year is a big year nationally. It is a Presidential year. However, it is a down or off year for Alabama. We, like several other southern states, have our big election year in non-presidential years. We elected our Governor and other constitutional offices and our entire legislature last year in 2022.
However, since we have staggered six year terms for our State Judges, we have an inordinate number of seats on our Supreme Court up for election next year. We have nine members of our State Supreme Court. All nine are Republicans.
Even though our Supreme Court is elected, we have a surprisingly wise and very qualified state high tribunal. All nine are well-qualified and well-rounded, yet very Republican and very conservative. We are a very Republican and very conservative sate. Therefore, these nine judges are reflective of the Heart of Dixie.
Even though there are five seats up for election, there is only one opening, Chief Justice Tom Parker is precluded from running for a six-year term. He is 72 and our state laws mandate that someone cannot run for a judgeship after they reach the age of 70.
Popular and younger jurists hold the other four seats. Three of the four will seek reelection and will win easily even if they draw opposition. These three incumbents are Will Sellers, Jay Mitchell and Tommy Bryan. The fourth, Sarah Stewart, is opting to run for the Chief Justice post that Tom Parker is vacating.
Justice Will Sellers probably will not draw an opponent. He is perfectly suited for the State Supreme Court. His resume reads as though he was born for the job. He was a successful tax attorney in his hometown of Montgomery. He graduated from the University of Alabama Law School and has a Masters of Law Degree in Taxation from New York University. His Tax Law expertise is invaluable to his colleagues on the Court. Will has a keen political mind in addition to his legal prowess. He and his wife, Lee Grant Sellers, are Governor Kay Ivey’s closest friends and confidantes. Will has sworn Governor Ivey into office at both her Inaugurations. Justice Sellers also pens a monthly column on historical events.
Justice Tommy Bryan is up for another six-year term. This popular incumbent jurist will be reelected without opposition. He hails from rural South Alabama – Brantley in Crenshaw County to be exact. He was first elected in 2012 and reelected to a second six-year term in 2018. Therefore, he will be seeking his third six-year term in 2024. He previously served eight years on the Court of Civil Appeals. He and his lovely wife Pam have two adult children. Tommy and Pam are very active members of the First Baptist Church of Montgomery
Judge Jay Mitchell is the tallest member of the Supreme Court. He stands a good 6 feet 8 inches. He also stands tall with integrity and wit. He is an affable fellow and is finishing his first six-year term on the high court. He will easily win election to his second term, probably unopposed. He graduated from Birmingham Southern College where he starred in basketball. He graduated from the University of Virginia Law School. He and his wife Elizabeth reside in Homewood with their four children. Jay Mitchell is only 46. He is not only the tallest member of the Court but also the youngest.
Justice Sarah Stewart is opting to leave her safe seat as an associate justice to seek election as Chief Justice next year. She has already announced and is actively running. More times than not the early bird gets the worm. Justice Stewart served 13 years as a Mobile Circuit Court Judge prior to going on to the Supreme Court.
Judge Chris McCool, who is an associate justice on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals, is favored to win Justice Stewart’s seat. You can bet your bottom dollar he will not be outworked.
Even though there are five seats up for reelection on the high court, there will be very little change when the dust settles This is a good court, and they have an excellent collegial working relationship.
The 2024 elections have begun.
See you next week.
Steve Flowers is Alabama’s leading political columnist. His weekly column appears in over 60 Alabama newspapers. He served 16 years in the state legislature. Steve may be reached at: www.steveflowers.us.
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