The Christian Coalition of Georgia released its first judicial voter guide on Tuesday, and it includes a list of questions about social issues, including gay rights. Just two of seven candidates for the state supreme court and court of appeals responded to the survey. Not surprisingly, those two agreed with the coalition on all five topics on the list. The survey is the Christian Coalition's first to take advantage of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing judicial candidates more leeway in campaigns. Before, judges were admonished not to talk about issues that may come before them on the bench.
The recent ruling allows judicial candidates to be more frank about their philosophies. Conservatives in Georgia are hoping that will help them shake up Georgia's court races, which historically have been dull affairs in which incumbents are reelected with little fanfare. The Christian Coalition voter guide will be mailed to 200,000 people, with another 300,000 guides earmarked for distribution in church bulletins starting this Sunday. The judicial races will be decided July 20. One of the candidates who responded to the survey, Grant Brantley, has already raised eyebrows because of his aggressive campaign to oust incumbent state supreme court justice Leah Ward Sears.
A Brantley mailer sent to voters says that Sears "supports gay and lesbian marriage," although the topic has never come before Georgia's high court. Sears did not respond to the survey, writing in a letter to the coalition that "my personal views on social issues are not relevant to my job as a judge, which is to faithfully uphold the laws of the United States and the state of Georgia." The Christian Coalition says Georgia is the first state where judicial surveys are being used but that more than a dozen states have Christian groups that may try to copy the idea. The coalition already puts out voter guides for
state legislators, although those come out in the fall.