Montgomery attorney Jerry M. Blevins' name has been removed from the March 5 Republican primary ballot for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

The removal leaves a two-way race for the Republican nomination for Chief Justice – Sarah Stewart versus Bryan Taylor.

Blevins had qualified prior to the November 10 deadline to run in the 2024 primary. His name had been listed on the ALGOP website under Qualified Candidates. As of Tuesday, his name had been removed.

The Alabama Republican Party has a long-standing policy of not commenting on ballot access issues. Efforts to reach Blevins were not successful.

A challenge had been filed against Blevins by a member of the State Republican Executive Committee. The challenge alleged that Blevins had supported the Democrat nominee for Chief Justice, Robert Vance, Jr., in his 2018 race against the Republican nominee, then-Justice Tom Parker. Blevins' action came within the GOP's six-year rule. If a person supports a candidate of another party during the six-year window, that person will be banned from running in the Republican primary.             

The two candidates, Stewart and Taylor, who remain on the ballot appear to have played no role in the challenge.

Sarah Stewart is an associate justice on the Supreme Court. Her seat is up for election in 2024, so she decided to move either up or out. She gave up a re-election bid for her seat to seek elevation to the Chief Justice spot.

Bryan Taylor is a former State Senator from Prattville and former legal advisor to Governors Bob Riley and Kay Ivey. He is now a practicing attorney.

The winner of the March 5 Republican primary faces the Democratic nominee, Judge Greg Griffin of Montgomery. He is a Montgomery County Circuit judge. Griffin was formerly active in the Republican Party and was appointed to his seat by Republican Gov. Robert Bentley. He then switched to the Democratic Party to run for re-election. Montgomery County, Griffin's judicial circuit, is solidly Democrat.

Incumbent Chief Justice Tom Parker is barred from running for another term due to a provision in Alabama law that limits judges from running after their 70th birthday. The legislature has not imposed similar restrictions on other constitutional officers, such as the governor or themselves.

Parker will leave office in January 2025, and the newly-elected Chief Justice will take office.

Blevins had previously defended Harvey Updyke, who was later convicted of poisoning the beloved oak trees at Toomer's Corner in Auburn. Blevins became the third lawyer to quit in the Updyke case. In the motion to withdraw, Blevins cited "an irreconcilable conflict" with defendant Updyke.

Jim Zeigler is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at [email protected].

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