Supreme Court shuffle gives governor more influence

But in less than two years, nearly half of the members have either retired or accepted new positions, giving Republican Gov. Phil Bryant a rare opportunity to exert considerable influence on the state’s highest court.

Bryant already has made two appointments to the Supreme Court in less than two years. With the announcement last week that Southern District Justice Jess Dickinson is stepping down to accept an appointment by Bryant as commissioner of the Department of Child Protection Services, the governor will be able to make another appointment to the Supreme Court in the coming weeks.

Under state law, judicial vacancies are filled by the governor. The gubernatorial appointment fills the rest of the term. Supreme Court justices serve eight year staggered terms.

Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, said he believes it is suspicious that so many members of the state’s highest court are either retiring or stepping down to accept new positions.

Daily Journal
8/13/17