April 17th, 2024

Sarah Stewart wins Republican nomination for Alabama chief justice

By The Associated Press on March 5, 2024.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama Supreme Court Justice Sarah Stewart, who was part of a court majority that ruled frozen embryos are considered children under a state law, has won the Republican nomination for Alabama chief justice.

Stewart defeated Bryan Taylor, a former state senator and legal adviser to two governors, to secure the GOP nomination. She will face Circuit Judge Greg Griffin, a Democrat from Montgomery, in November.

Stewart is seeking to fill the position held by retiring Chief Justice Tom Parker who drew national attention after quoting the Bible in his concurring opinion supporting legal protections for embryos.

The ruling treats an embryo the same as a child or gestating fetus under the state’s wrongful death statute, and has raised concerns about civil liabilities for clinics. Three major providers announced a pause on IVF services. In response, Alabama lawmakers have proposed lawsuit protections for clinics to try and get them back open.

Stewart was among justices who ruled couples who had frozen embryos destroyed in a fertility clinic accident could pursue lawsuits for the wrongful death of a minor child. She joined a concurring opinion written by Associate Justice Greg Shaw that the wrongful death law covers “an unborn child with no distinction between in vitro or in utero.” Shaw added that all three branches of state government are bound to follow a provision in the Alabama Constitution in 2018 saying it is state policy to recognize “the rights of unborn children.”

The Alabama chief justice serves on the state’s highest court, and also serves as the administrative head of the state court system.

Parker cannot run again because Alabama law prohibits judges from being elected or appointed after age 70.

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