President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he intends to nominate Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant to fill an opening on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Grant would fill a job opened by Judge Julie Carnes, who plans to take senior status this year.
“Britt Grant has served our state and nation with distinction in her roles on the Georgia Supreme Court, as solicitor general in the Georgia attorney general’s office and in various positions in the George W. Bush administration,” Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., said in a news release. “She will be an excellent addition to the 11th Circuit Court.”
“President Trump has made an excellent choice in selecting Justice Britt Grant to serve on the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit Court of Appeals,” Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., said. “As both a Georgia Supreme Court justice and as Georgia’s former solicitor general, Justice Grant has displayed the highest level of integrity and professionalism in her career, and I am certain that will continue with her service on the 11th Circuit.”
Grant has served on the state high court for one year and three months. Gov. Nathan Deal appointed her to fill one of two expansion positions on the Supreme Court, bringing the total justices there from seven to nine.
In her brief tenure on the high court, Grant has written opinions for some of the most-watched cases in Georgia’s state courts. In June 2017, she wrote for the court in reinstating a $35 million verdict against Six Flags Over Georgia for the family of a teenager attacked outside the park. She told the story in gripping detail, using the word “brutal” to describe what happened.
In March of this year, she wrote for the court in unanimously upholding a $40 million judgement against FCA Chrysler for the family of 4-year-old Remi Walden, who died in a burning Jeep after the gas tank exploded after a rear-end collision.
Grant has qualified to run for her first election May 22. She has no competition.
Before becoming a justice, Grant served for one year as Georgia’s solicitor general, a position she filled when Deal promoted Nels Peterson from that job to the Court of Appeals. Peterson served for one year on the Court of Appeals before Deal moved him up to the high court at the same time as Grant.
When Deal swore in Grant as a Georgia Supreme Court justice in December 2016, he noted that she had gone to a prestigious law school, clerked for a federal judge and worked for a high-profile Washington law firm, but he added with a smile that the most important item on her resume was working in a congressional office—his.
That key first job was legislative correspondent to then-Congressman Deal. She wrote letters to constituents.
Deal has often said he puts a high value on clear legal writing, and complimented all his appointments on their skills in this area. Grant underscored that priority from the start.
“It’s too much to expect that everyone will like an opinion, but it’s not too much to expect that they can understand it,” she said in her swearing-in speech. She added later in a conversation, “It takes a lot longer to make something understandable than not understandable.”
But Deal is not her only important mentor. Her old boss, Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, traveled to Atlanta to introduce her in the swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol. He also wrote a lively three-page letter of recommendation in which he praised many aspects of her work, including her writing, which he said is superb.
“This critical consideration is too often overlooked when appellate judges are appointed around the country,” Kavanaugh wrote. “One of the most important duties of an appellate judge is to write opinions. If an appellate judge cannot write well, then the quality of the court’s opinions will suffer. And poor opinions are a recipe for confusion in the law, for dismay in the trial and other courts that must follow the appellate court’s decisions, and for unhappy litigants who do not understand the court’s outcome or reasoning.”
Kavanaugh noted he had also worked with Grant in the White House under President George W. Bush. He was White House counsel, among other jobs. She was an assistant to the director of the Domestic Policy Council on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I have worked with her closely in two challenging environments, in an appeals court chambers and in the White House,” Kavanaugh wrote. “She always maintained her optimistic and genial manner. I cannot overstate how important it is to appoint appellate judges who have collegial personalities and who will work well with others and command the respect and admiration of those who appear before them.”
Grant’s recommendations also included a letter from Craig Primis, a litigation partner at Kirkland & Ellis in Washington where she worked after she clerked for Kavanaugh. Primis said Grant quickly understood the complex business cases the firm handled. “No matter the legal issue,” Primis wrote, “Ms. Grant always demonstrated the intellect, curiosity, and judgment needed to get the right result.”