Incumbent Georgia Justice Andrew Pinson defeats challenge from John Barrow focused on abortion rights

Georgia Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson has defeated a challenge from former U.S. Rep. John Barrow in Tuesday's election.
Georgia Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson poses, April 17, 2024, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

This story was updated on Tuesday at 10:44 p.m.

Georgia state Supreme Court Justice Andrew Pinson has defeated a challenge from former U.S. Rep. John Barrow in the general election for judicial candidates, who run without party labels.

The 37-year-old Pinson wins a six-year term after Gov. Brian Kemp appointed him to the nine-member court in 2022. The 69-year-old Barrow made support for abortion rights central to his campaign. Pinson said discussing issues would weaken confidence that he could judge fairly, and he warned of making judicial campaigns too political.

“Tonight the voters of Georgia voiced their desire for a fair and impartial judiciary,” Pinson said in a statement.

Kemp and other conservatives intervened to aid Pinson in a race that grew heated by the usually sleepy standards of Georgia’s judicial elections. Barrow unsuccessfully sued in federal court, saying a state judicial agency was violating his free-speech rights. The agency warned Barrow his claim that Georgians have a right to abortion under the state constitution might be violating judicial ethics.

“The people who have spoken up on the issue of abortion rights agree with me, and so the issue remains to be decided, first by the Supreme Court and ultimately by the people,” Barrow said in a statement.

Justices Michael Boggs, John Ellington and Nels Peterson are unopposed. Six judges on the Georgia Court of Appeals are also unopposed, while Jeff Davis and Tabitha Ponder are contending for an open seat on the court.

Pinson’s win continues an over-100-year streak of incumbent Georgia Supreme Court justices winning reelection. The last to lose was in 1922, according to UGA political science professor Charles Bullock.

WABE News contributed to this report.