ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal on Monday appointed Judge Keith Blackwell, who led “Lawyers For Deal” during the gubernatorial election, to a seat on the Georgia Supreme Court being vacated by a retirement.
He will replace Justice George Carley, who will retire next month. Blackwell’s selection was the Republican governor’s first appointment to the state Supreme Court, with the swearing-in scheduled for July 19.
Blackwell, who previously practiced civil and criminal law, will serve on the court until 2014, when voters will decide whether to keep him on the bench for a six-year term.
“The Supreme Court will benefit from Judge Blackwell’s experience on both sides of the bench,” Deal said in a statement. “His intelligence, many years of experience and dedicated commitment to public service will serve Georgians well in his new role on our state’s highest court.”
Blackwell led a lawyers group formed to support Deal and gave $500 to his campaign, according to state records. Deal spokesman Brian Robinson said Blackwell’s political support did not influence the governor’s appointment.
“The fact that he had excellent taste in candidates should not disqualify him from a Supreme Court seat,” Robinson said.
Former Gov. Sonny Perdue appointed Blackwell to the Georgia Court of Appeals in 2010. He sits on the Board of Advisors for the Atlanta chapter of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies, a conservative legal organization. He was the chapter’s president for three years and served on its executive board, according to Deal’s office.
Blackwell is an adviser to the Business Courts Committee of the state bar and chairman of the Committee on Court Rules at the Court of Appeals. He practiced civil and criminal law as a private attorney and also served for two years as an assistant district attorney in Cobb County.