In the earlier post on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice David Souter, one of the names we mentioned as a potential successor is Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears. ABC News, The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and many others now report Sears is on the President's "short list" of possible nominees. Sears is a "strong" advocate on gay rights issues, Southern Voice reports:
Sears, who will also step down in June, has served on the state’s highest court since 1992. The first woman and youngest justice in the court’s history, she was also its first African-American female chief justice. Sears has kept her plans for her retirement private, although she has hinted at wanting a larger public role.
"I also believe in ‘get married, stay married,’ which a lot of right-wing people have co-opted that as their issue," she said. "But it’s not their issue, I thought it was my issue too. Political games are played with all kinds of issues and I don’t think issues belong to any one group."
Sears’ legal opinions on gay-related issues, including voting with the majority to overturn Georgia’s sodomy law, drew efforts from conservatives to unseat her. In 2004, Gov. Sonny Perdue and the Georgia Christian Coalition backed Grant Brantley in the race; Sears won easily.
Sears also opposed the legislature's ultimately successful attempt to place an anti same-sex marriage amendment on the ballot, writing in the dissent the process "would change the Constitution in more ways than one and thus 'amend the state Constitution by stealth.' "
The chief justice also wrote the majority opinion and the ended the imprisonment of 21-year-old Genarlow Wilson, who had been serving a 10-year sentence for having consensual oral sex with another teenager when he was 17-years-old. Sears said the harsh sentence was "grossly disproportionate" to the crime, which "did not rise to the level of culpability of adults who prey on children."