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Judge dismisses lawsuit by Georgia court candidate who sued to keep talking about abortion

ATLANTA (AP) — A federal judge on Thursday rejected a lawsuit by a former Democratic congressman running for Georgia state Supreme Court who claimed a state agency was unconstitutionally trying to block him from talking about abortion.

U.S. District Judge Michael Brown ruled John Barrow didn’t have standing to sue because Barrow himself chose to release a confidential letter from the Georgia Judicial Qualifications Commission and because his continued public statements show his speech isn’t being restricted.

Election day is Tuesday in the nonpartisan contest between Barrow and Justice Andrew Pinson, who was appointed to the nine-justice court in 2022 by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp. Incumbent justices in Georgia almost never lose or face serious challenges. The three other justices seeking new six-year terms are unopposed.

Facing that uphill battle, Barrow has made abortion the centerpiece of his campaign, saying he believes Georgia’s state constitution guarantees a right to abortion that is at least as strong as Roe v. Wade was before it was overturned in 2022. That decision cleared the way for a 2019 Georgia law to take effect banning most abortions after fetal cardiac activity can be detected, usually in about the sixth week of pregnancy. That is before many women know they are pregnant.

While the contest hasn’t grown as intense as high court races in other states including Wisconsin, attention and spending are higher than in the state’s historically sleepy judicial campaigns. Kemp and Christian conservative groups are aiding Pinson, while groups that support abortion rights have endorsed Barrow but provided little aid. Kemp’s political group has said it is spending $500,000 on advertising for Pinson.

Read more on apnews.com