Rep. Colton Moore, of Dade County, has asked new Governor Brian Kemp to veto a bill that would name the new state Supreme Court building for former Governor Nathan Deal.
"SUBJECT: Veto HR1 Our State’s Highest Courts Must Remain Neutral and Impartial
"Dear Governor Kemp, House Resolution 1, which has passed the House and Senate, seeks to rename one of the most important and expensive government buildings in Georgia history. The new $127 million State of Georgia Appellate Courthouse will hold the highest, most precious courts of justice in Georgia. Should this Resolution obtain your approval, the building would be renamed the “Nathan Deal Judicial Center.”
"Respectfully, such a designation would be highly inappropriate for a building where the Georgia Supreme Court and Court of Appeals will be housed. Former Governor Deal continues to be extremely active in Georgia politics. He owns and operates a lobbying firm which already represents clients, such as Pruitt Health, that have significant cases before these State appellate courts on matters ranging from wrongful death to fraud against state agencies.
Should you approve HR1, these clients and their critical court cases will be heard in the very building named after the lobbying firm they have hired. This is a serious conflict of interest that eternally jeopardizes the crown jewel of justice in Georgia. Furthermore, potential challenges to executive actions taken by former Governor Deal’s administration, and appeals of such challenges, would be made to a court housed in a building named in his honor. In light of this, I request you veto any Resolution that names a living person to a building equal to the reach and influence of our State Capitol. If such an honor is ever appropriate for a courthouse, I believe it is only appropriate to recognize someone in this fashion once our State has had the opportunity to process the entire body of one’s contributions to our society, freedoms, and way of life.
"I submit to you the example set by one of the first and greatest symbols of justice in our country, President George Washington. After leading our nation to freedom, presiding over the Constitutional Convention and later serving as our first President, he declined the honor of being featured on the first U.S. silver dollar, symbolizing his humble nature of service. Congress later cemented President Washington’s tradition of humility in public service by passing 31 US Code § 5112 (n)(2)(e): “No coin issued under this subsection may bear the image of a living former or current President, or of any deceased former President during the 2-year period following the date of the death of that President.”
"If you allow our State’s highest courts to conduct the business of Georgia’s citizens in a courthouse named after a living person, who continues to be actively involved in the public policy and business of the State, we will sacrifice the neutrality and impartiality so critical to the administration of justice. Even the appearance of impropriety damages public trust in Georgia’s judicial branch, impairing the ability to uphold the Constitution and laws of our State.
"Our Founding Fathers created a nation of laws, not of men. The citizens of Georgia must be able to trust that our State’s highest courts are operating free of political influence or bias, beyond even the smallest doubt. House Resolution 1 is a clear conflict of interest. It should be vetoed."