Connect with us

Local News

In the race to lead the Arkansas Supreme Court, Justices Karen Baker and Rhonda Wood progress to the runoff



Little Rock, Arkansas – This fall’s chief justice runoff between Arkansas Supreme Court Justices Karen Baker and Rhonda Wood will guarantee that a woman will be chosen to the position for the first time in the panel’s seven-year history.

Former state legislator Jay Martin and Justice Barbara Webb were also seeking the position of chief justice.

Tuesday saw the reelection of Justice Courtney Hudson in a different contest.

With Justice Courtney Hudson winning reelection in one race, Republican governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders will get two new appointments to the court.

In the contest for the second seat on the court, Hudson prevailed over Circuit Judge Carlton Jones.

Sanders appointed Justice Cody Hiland last year, and the two were vying to succeed him.

Chief Justice Dan Kemp, who was initially elected in 2016 and is not running for reelection, was challenged by Baker, Martin, Webb, and Wood.

After submitting her ballot at a Little Rock community center on Tuesday morning, Sanders refused to disclose her choice for the candidates.

The state’s top court is about to take up significant issues in several well-known fields, and seats are up for election.

Supporters of abortion rights are attempting to place a ballot item in November that would reduce the prohibition on the operation that went into effect when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

The dispute over who oversees Arkansas’ prison system, between Sanders and the state Board of Corrections, has also been brought before the court for a ruling.

A judge’s decision to overturn a bill that Sanders signed, which denied the board the authority to choose and dismiss the state’s top prisons officer, is being appealed by Attorney General Tim Griffin.

When Hudson assumes the second seat on the court in January, there will be a vacancy as a result of her victory.

Because of the state’s judicial retirement regulations, the sitting justice decided to run for Hiland’s seat in an attempt to extend her tenure on the court. After Justice Robin Wynne passed away last year, Hiland was appointed by Sanders to the court.

Hiland, a federal prosecutor and former chairman of the state Republican Party, was appointed to the position and was not eligible to contest for it.

Hudson thanked the people of Arkansas for their support and stated that she wished to commemorate Wynne and his family. Hudson said to The Associated Press on Tuesday night, “I’d like to continue what I’ve always done in terms of providing senior leadership on the court, making sure that our focus stays on the constitution and that the rule of law always wins the day, and being a good judge.”

If Jones had prevailed in the contest, he would have become the first elected Black justice to the court.

Outside conservative organizations have focused on Arkansas’s court races in recent years, and in 2018, Hudson filed a lawsuit to stop the groups’ targeted advertisements.

But those groups abstained from the judicial race this year.

Republican Party affiliations are shared by two of the chief justice contenders: Sanders’ father, former governor Mike Huckabee, selected Wood to a judgeship, and Webb is married to a prominent state GOP chairman.

Two years ago, Martin ran a failed campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor, citing his opposition to abortion.

In 2022, Baker defeated a former Republican lawmaker who positioned himself as a constitutional conservative and gained reelection.


Continue Reading

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *