Justice Britt Grant – Nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

Justice Britt C. Grant is President Trump’s third nominee to the Eleventh Circuit. Like Trump’s first nominee, Kevin Newsom, Grant is a former state solicitor general (Grant of Georgia, Newsom of Alabama). Like Trump’s second nominee, Lisa Branch, Grant worked as a BigLaw commercial litigator and subsequently served as a state appeals courts judge (Grant of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Branch of the Georgia Court of Appeals). Like both Newsom and Branch, Grant is a longtime member of the Federalist Society. Although Grant–if confirmed–will be replacing an Obama appointee, Julie Carnes, the replacement will not likely have an immediate effect on the ideological balance of the court because Carnes herself most frequently votes in divided cases with her more conservative colleagues (as did the judge that Lisa Branch replaced, Frank Hull).

Background

Britt Cagle[1] Grant is a 40-year-old Atlanta native who graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest University in 2000 and graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School in 2007.[2] Between the two, she worked for then-Congressman (now-Governor) Nathan Deal’s office, followed by several years of domestic-policy work in the White House of George W. Bush.[3]

While in law school, Grant served as the president of the Stanford Federalist Society, the co-founder and co-president of the Stanford National Security and the Law Society, and the managing editor of the Stanford Journal of International Law.[4] She then clerked for conservative superstar Judge Brett Kavanaugh of the D.C. Circuit (2007-2008) before turning to a multi-year stint doing commercial litigation at the D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis.[5] In 2012, she left Washington to work for the Georgia Attorney General’s office. She worked first as “Counsel for Legal Policy,” and then in January 2015 she was appointed Solicitor General of Georgia, in which role she served until her appointment to the Supreme Court of Georgia by her former boss, now-Governor Nathan Deal, in January 2017.[6] She is the Georgia Supreme Court’s third female justice in history,[7] and she serves alongside the second female justice, Carol Hunstein.[8] At her swearing in, Grant “promised to honor the rule of law with humility and fairness. And she set another goal: ‘clarity and coherence.’”[9] A few months after her appointment, the Georgia Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Hines had this to say about Grant and her fellow recent appointee Nels Peterson: “They are as bright as new pennies. And they’re good people.”[10]

Grant is a member of the American Law Institute, the Joseph Henry Lumpkin American Inn of Court, the Appellate Practice Section of the Georgia Bar, and the Emory University Board of Visitors.[11] She has also served on various Supreme Court of Georgia Committee concerning matters such as professionalism, dispute resolution, and public trust.[12] Grant also serves on the Federalism & Separation of Powers Executive Committee of the Federalist Society and is also a member of the advisory board of the Atlanta chapter of that group.[13] (The Federalist Society’s Separation of Powers practice group’s Executive Committee seems to be a particular productive reservoir of Trump nominees. I noted in my post on Kevin Newsom that he had been a member of that same committee, along with current Eleventh Circuit Judge William Pryor and fellow Trump nominee David Stras, who has since been confirmed to the Eighth Circuit. Grant’s nomination is thus at least the third Trump nomination to come from that committee. I am no longer able to determine the other current members of that committee, because following the publication of my post on Kevin Newsom, the Federalist Society has taken down the list of committee members from their website,[14] although the website makes clear that each committee indeed still does have an executive committee that meets once a month.[15])

Although there is no current vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, in November 2017, Grant was added to President Trump’s running list of possible Supreme Court nominees (which includes her former boss, Judge Kavanaugh).[16]

History of the Seat

Grant has been nominated to a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit to a seat opened by Judge Julie Carnes’s move to senior status in June 2018.  As noted, however, Grant had been on the White House’s radar much earlier.  She was vetted in 2017 for the vacancy opened by Judge Frank Hull’s move to senior status, a vacancy ultimately filled by Judge Lisa Branch.[17]

Legal Career

Grant’s career in litigation relevant to her nominated position appears to be limited to her years as Georgia’s Solicitor General. In that capacity, she appeared in some capacity (i.e., with her name appearing on the briefs) in eighteen cases before the Supreme Court of Georgia.[18] Of those eighteen, certiorari was denied in five,[19] three were transferred to the Georgia Court of Appeals,[20] one was an application for interlocutory appeal that was denied (Grant was Appellee),[21] one was dismissed on a motion to dismiss (Grant was Appellee),[22] and the remaining eight were disposed of through opinions. Of those eight, she served as a neutral amicus in one,[23] and among the remaining seven, her office won six and lost one. The wins: she was appellee in Olvera v. University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents[24] and amicus appellee in Hertz v. Bennett,[25] and the opinions below were unanimously affirmed; as appellant in McKinney v. Fuciarelli,[26] Kemp v. Monroe County,[27] and In the Interest of B.R.F. f/k/a/ B.R.M.,[28] she won unanimous reversal or vacate-and-remand; and as appellant in Turner v. Georgia River Network,[29] she won reversal with the support of all those participating except Justice Melton, who dissented.The case her office lost was Grady County Board of Commissioners v. Georgia River Network,[30] with all those participating voting against her team–except Justice Melton.

Her briefing in those cases before the Supreme Court of Georgia reflects traditional adherence to text–with a willingness to look beyond text when it is helpful to advance the needs of the case–and deference to the legislature. In one case concerning sovereign immunity, her office explored the history of various provisions of the Georgia Constitution and wrote: “If the public interest in avoiding what could occasionally be viewed as harsh or unfair results outweighs the public interest in sovereign immunity, then the people of Georgia – through the General Assembly – have the constitutional authority to waive it.”[31] She spoke to “fidelity to the text of the statute” in one case, and argued that the bar to establish the absurdity exception to overcome plain meaning is high one, citing Joseph Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States.[32] In other cases, she did not limit herself to plain language, contending in one that “The cardinal rule of statutory construction is to seek the intent of the Legislature, and language in part of a statute must be construed in light of the legislative intent as found in the statute as a whole”;[33] in another: “Both text and practice demonstrate that the Board of Regents is not subject to the APA.”[34]

In her briefing, Grant also demonstrated sympathy for practical considerations. Where the Court of Appeals had granted an out-of-time appeal because “a constitutional violation concerning the appeal occurred when the mother’s right to file an application for discretionary appeal with the assistance of a court-appointed attorney was frustrated because of the ineffective assistance or denial of counsel,”[35] Grant acknowledged the burden on the mother–“To be sure, it is regrettable that the mother was unaware that she had the right to counsel for an appeal.”–but bemoaned the “dangers” of the decision of the Court of Appeals: “So long as there is the possibility of an out-of-time discretionary appeal, there will be no certainty for any deprived child that his or her stable, permanent home placement will be maintained. As this Court has recognized, ‘languishing in temporary care’ is not healthy for deprived children, who ‘need permanence of home and emotional stability or they are likely to suffer serious emotional problems.’”[36]

Grant also filed numerous briefs in the Georgia Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit. In the Eleventh Circuit, she was involved in litigation concerning the EPA’s  “Waters of the United States Rule,”[37] with her jurisdictional arguments ultimately being vindicated in the Supreme Court earlier this year (in a case other than hers).[38]

Her experience leading cases as party counsel before the Supreme Court of the United States includes one case while she was in private practice and four as Georgia’s Solicitor General:

Although the papers do not appear to list her as named counsel in the original-jurisdiction case of Florida v. Georgia (a water case that is still ongoing well after her departure),[39] Grant states that she supervised the litigation team, “provided strategic oversight and budget management, edited briefs, represented the State in status conferences, worked with State officials on budgetary issues, and participated in trial preparation.”[40]

In McLaughlin v. Lejeune, the U.S. Supreme Court denied her cert petition challenging a Georgia Supreme Court decision that refused to apply harmless-error analysis in determining the validity of guilty pleas.  In that case, the defendant was not advised “of the three rights identified in Boykin v. Alabama, 395 U.S. 238 (1969),” “i.e., the rights to trial by jury, to confront one’s accusers and the privilege against compelled self-incrimination.”[41] Three justices of the Georgia Supreme Court had dissented in the decision below,[42] and Governor Deal has since appointed three new justices to the court–including Grant–such that there may now potentially be more than enough votes to overrule the prior decision, should it come before the court again. Such a case would permit one to determine whether the view Grant advocated in her cert petition tracks her own view, but the issue does not appear to have come before the court again since that time–at least not in a form that has resulted in a written opinion.

Grant filed a brief opposing cert in Alves v. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, and that petition was denied as well.[43] In Alves, two members of an Eleventh Circuit panel (Judge Wilson and District Judge William Terrell Hodges) held–over Judge Martin’s dissent–that a “written grievance by five [Georgie State University] employees alleging mismanagement by their supervisor which preceded their termination” was not entitled to First Amendment protection.[44] In defending this result, Grant first suggested the case was a poor vehicle for Supreme Court review given that a separate state-court ruling issued a few days prior to the filing of the brief would render the First Amendment question moot once the state-court decision became final.[45] On the merits, while Judge Martin believed the employees were speaking as citizens on matters of public concern,[46] Grant contended that “Petitioners’ attempt to portray their speech as having broader implications for the GSU community amounts to garden-variety complaining about their employment conditions and the tasks they were asked to perform. The gravamen of Petitioners’ memorandum was that they disagreed with the policies their supervisor was implementing . . . . It was only incident to voicing their personal concerns that Petitioners’ remarks touched upon matters that might potentially affect the student body. To hold otherwise would allow Petitioners to constitutionalize a run-of-the-mill employee grievance through inclusion of calculated buzzwords regarding issues that, after investigation, proved to be unfounded.”[47]

Another case, this one decided on the merits, was Foster v. ChatmanFoster was a Batson case in which Chief Justice Roberts–joined by seven other justices (only Justice Thomas dissented)–held that the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision that Foster failed to show purposeful discrimination in jury selection was clearly erroneous. Grant’s office had argued in its brief that “[t]he facially neutral notes on black prospective jurors, taken eight months after Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), are not evidence of the State’s intention to engage in purposeful discrimination as alleged by Foster. Instead, they are the result of the State’s efforts to rebut contentions of discrimination.”[48] The State contended that Foster “has failed to show anything but an attempt by a racially diverse prosecution team to demonstrate its compliance with the new evidentiary requirements outlined in Batson.”[49] Chief Justice Roberts squarely rejected this argument, saying it “falls flat”: first, it “reeks of afterthought, having never before been made in the nearly 30-year history of this litigation: not in the trial court, not in the state habeas court, and not even in the State’s brief in opposition to Foster’s petition for certiorari. In addition, the focus on race in the prosecution’s file plainly demonstrates a concerted effort to keep black prospective jurors off the jury.”[50] Curiously, while Grant’s name appears on the Joint Appendix of the case,[51] it does not appear on the merits brief just quoted, even though the other four attorneys who appeared with her on the Joint Appendix do indeed appear on it.[52] The Supreme Court’s docket for the case does not appear to contain any explanation for this.

Contrary to what might be expected, the representation that led to the most splintered Supreme Court decision was not in her capacity as Solicitor General but rather in her earlier private practice. In Shady Grove Orthopedic Associates v. Allstate Insurance Company, the Supreme Court held that a New York law placing limits on class actions did not preclude a federal district court sitting in diversity from entertaining a class action under Rule 23.[53] Grant’s brief[54] did not carry the day, although the case produced a highly unusual split, with Justice Scalia writing (for portions of the opinion) for Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Stevens, Thomas, and Sotomayor, while Justice Ginsburg wrote in dissent for Justices Kennedy, Breyer, and Alito.

These cases do not encompass all of Grant’s participation at the Supreme Court of the United States. She was also party counsel for the State of Georgia–but not for the leading state, Texas–in the multi-state challenge to DAPA (Deferred Actions for Parents of Americans), Texas v. United States.[55] And under her leadership, Georgia also participated as amicus in numerous other cases that resulted in highly splintered opinions: Shelby County v. Holder (state coverage under the Voting Rights Act),[56] Town of Greece v. Galloway (legislative prayer),[57] Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate),[58] Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (public-employee unions),[59] Obergefell v. Hodges (marriage for same-sex couples),[60] Glossip v. Gross (lethal-injection protocols),[61] and Gloucester Cty. Sch. Bd. v. G.G. (rights of transgender students),[62] among others.[63] Her Senate questionnaire indicates that for these cases, she “drafted, reviewed, or edited” the relevant filings.[64] Her name does not appear as counsel on them, however. Instead, the briefs list the name of Georgia’s attorney general at the time.

Jurisprudence

By my count, Grant–as a justice on the Supreme Court of Georgia–has written over 40 majority opinions. All but seven were unanimous in reasoning and result,[65] and two were unanimous but contained an additional concurring opinion.[66]

Of the seven majority opinions by Grant that were not unanimous, only two contained an additional opinion actually explaining the disagreement.[67] In both of those concurring opinions, her fellow justices “concurring specially” expressed the view that Grant had decided more than she needed to. In one case concerning official immunity (in particular, the question whether the defendant’s acts were discretionary or ministerial), Barnett v. Caldwell, Justice Melton (joined by Justice Hunstein) stated:

Although I concur with the analysis in the body of the majority opinion, I must write separately because I believe that dicta in footnote two sets forth an overly broad rule that is not applicable to the facts of this case. The majority suggests that: “An action or failure to act is either discretionary or not, and an official cannot alter that fact by doing it well, poorly, or not at all.” I disagree with this statement, and, more fundamentally, I disagree with the majority’s decision to expound upon the issue at all. The judicial process is served neither by inserting unnecessary and complicated issues into a case, nor by proclaiming unwavering rules to govern such complicated issues. The majority does both. I believe that this issue was handled more appropriately by Justice Peterson, who authored the opinion below [(and was thus disqualified in this particular case)]. Justice Peterson reasoned as follows:

Caldwell suggests that a total failure to comply with Section 6.5 would nevertheless be a discretionary act entitled to official immunity. We view such an argument through skeptical eyes, because a total failure to perform an act may involve no exercise of discretion or deliberation whatsoever, and it is not clear that such a failure would be considered a discretionary act covered by official immunity. But given our resolution of this appeal, it is not necessary to decide this question.

Far reaching (and, in this case, overly broad) rules like the one proposed by the majority should not be created in dicta, especially in an area of the law which requires an in depth consideration of the law and facts on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, I cannot concur with the analysis set forth in footnote two.[[68]]

In a separate case, Chrysler Group LLC v. Walden, Grant held that compensation evidence “is subject to the Rule 403 analysis weighing the evidence’s unfair prejudice against its probative value.” Grant noted that Chrysler did not object and thus analyzed the question under the plain-error standard instead of the abuse-of-discretion standard, and–finding no “clear and obvious reversible error”–affirmed the judgment below.[69] Justice Peterson, joined by Justice Boggs, took issue that Grant’s opinion went beyond those points:

I agree with each of those premises, and they are all that is necessary to decide the question this case presents. As such, the cardinal principle of judicial restraint—if it is not necessary to decide more, it is necessary not to decide more—counsels us to go no further. But Division II (B) does not stop there; it goes much further (mostly in dicta), and often with sweeping language that travels far beyond this case. Respectfully, I cannot go along.[[70]]

Notably, Justice Melton (who had authored the special concurrence in Barnett suggesting that Grant had gone too far), wrote his own concurring opinion, stating that “[e]ven when considered in light of the concurrence from Justice Peterson, I agree with the analysis in the majority opinion.”[71]

The final majority opinion I will mention is Levis v. State, in which Grant issued a unanimous-in-result opinion reversing a felony-murder conviction on October 31, 2017,[72] then issued another unanimous-in-result opinion on December 11, 2017, superseding the prior opinion and upholding the felony-murder conviction.[73] Each opinion began this way: “Following a jury trial, Lisa Ann Lebis appeals her convictions of felony murder and other crimes related to the shooting death of Officer Sean Callahan. Lebis contends that the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict with regard to a number of counts against her and that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance in the case.”[74] The October 2017 opinion continued:  “For the reasons set forth below, we affirm in part and reverse in part—affirming Lebis’s convictions of two of the misdemeanor obstruction counts and all of the counts regarding possession of firearms and dangerous weapons; but reversing her conviction of felony murder and of the other two misdemeanor obstructions.”[75] And the December 2017 opinion continued: “For the reasons set forth below, we affirm in part and reverse in part—affirming Lebis’s convictions of two of the misdemeanor obstruction counts, all of the counts regarding possession of firearms and dangerous weapons, and of felony murder; but reversing her conviction of the other two misdemeanor obstructions.”[76] With respect to the felony murder charge, the October 2017 opinion stated that “[a] more difficult question arises when we consider Lebis’s argument that the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law in relation to her conviction of felony murder as charged in the indictment,” ultimately reaching this conclusion:

That understanding renders Lebis’s felony murder conviction improper. Although the indictment charged Lebis with felony murder as a party to the crime, it specified that the predicate felony was Lebis’s joint possession of the murder weapon at the time Tremaine used it to shoot Officer Callahan. But Lebis’s prior constructive possession of the Glock when it was kept with the other weapons in the motel room does not bear on whether she possessed it at the time of the murder as charged in the indictment. The indictment required the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Lebis jointly possessed the murder weapon at the time of the murder; the evidence does not support her joint possession of the Glock at that time. Because the evidence was insufficient to support the charge of felony murder as set forth in the indictment, Lebis’s conviction for this crime must be reversed.[[77]]

In contrast, the December 2017 opinion started that section by declaring, “The evidence was also sufficient to support the jury’s verdict that Lebis was guilty of felony murder as a party to her husband’s possession of a firearm as a convicted felon—a criminal act that proximately caused the death of Officer Callahan.” Explaining, Grant stated:

[A] defendant can be held responsible for the actions of another as a party to the crime or as a co-conspirator, without also concluding that the defendant constructively possessed the contraband actually and solely possessed by another. So even though Lebis did not jointly possess that firearm with Tremaine at the moment of the murder, it remains true that she can be held to account for the actions of another—here, her husband—as a party to the crime or as a co-conspirator. Accordingly, her arguments that she did not constructively possess the firearm do not help her escape responsibility for the crime.

As to the variance in the indictment, the majority opinion now had this to say:

Although Lebis raised sufficiency of the evidence rather than a “fatal variance” between the language of the indictment, which charged joint possession, and the proof at trial, we also note that any suggestion of such a fatal variance would also fail. Our courts no longer employ an overly technical application of the fatal variance rule, focusing instead on materiality. The true inquiry, therefore, is not whether there has been a variance in proof, but whether there has been such a variance as to affect the substantial rights of the accused.[[78]]

Grant has also participated in opinions as a concurring colleague. In at least two cases, she concurred in only the judgment as to certain portions of an opinion, but she did not write an opinion explaining the disagreement (as appears to be common in Georgia Supreme Court cases).[79]

She wrote a concurring opinion (joined by Justice Nahmias) in Schumacher v. City of Roswell, which made clear again her focus on following clear textual commands (and the frustration of not having them):

I join the Court’s opinion in full, including its conclusion that the only issue decided today is that a freestanding challenge to the facial validity of a zoning ordinance, unaccompanied by any complaint regarding an individualized determination impacting a particular parcel of land, does not challenge a “decision” of an “administrative agency” under OCGA § 5-6-35 (a) (1). This decision is consistent with the text of the statute, and accordingly with our responsibility as judges to apply even complicated statutes as they are written by the General Assembly.

That said, I understand and appreciate the concerns of the dissenting opinion regarding the lack of clarity in appellate procedures. More often than not, one would expect a close adherence to the textual demands of a statute to lead to greater clarity in the law; an attorney should be able to turn to the statute in the codebook and determine whether a direct appeal or an application is appropriate in a given case. That ideal is not necessarily met here. But the dissent’s approach does not add clarity either, seeking to extend a rationale that we have already deemed to have “fallacies.”

Even in the context of zoning, which has purportedly been the subject of a “bright line rule,” this Court has not been able to agree on which cases require an application. . . .

We recently attempted to bring some needed clarity to this interpretive enterprise by explaining in Keystone Knights that decisions can be “adjudicative,” “legislative,” or “executive,” and that an application is required to seek review of “adjudicative” decisions by administrative agencies. That decision was a valuable step in asserting order over our jurisprudence in this area, but it still left much to be divined by practicing attorneys. Of course, in fairness to Keystone Knights, the complexity of the analysis required under any approach that takes statutory language seriously counsels in favor of a legislative solution. What, for example, is a “decision”? Or an “administrative agency”? And what is the answer when a case raises claims regarding legislative, executive, and adjudicative decisions by a government entity acting in different capacities with respect to each of the “decisions”? The statute invites rather than answers these questions, and we can only do so much to simplify while also remaining faithful to its text.

Accordingly, the General Assembly may wish to clarify the scope of the matters that are subject to the discretionary appeal process. Until then, the best path forward—as remarkable as this is—may well be to follow the advice of two leading Georgia appellate treatises and file a discretionary application in every instance where there is any doubt.[[80]]

And in State v. Cohen (part of the “Waffle House sex tape” saga), Grant herself (joined by Justices Hunstein and Blackwell) contended that the majority decided a question it need not have.[81] That case concerned O.C.G.A. § 16-11-62(2), which states that a person may not use any device “to observe, photograph, or record the activities of another which occur in any private place and out of public view.” (That statute has been discussed on this blog before, as it was also the subject of a news-attracting opinion written by fellow Trump nominee Lisa Branch.[82]) The housekeeper and personal assistant to the chairman of Waffle House was accused of recording the two having sex,[83] and the majority held that:

Although there is nothing in the plain language of former OCGA § 16-11-62 (2) to indicate that Rogers and the other person in the residence would no longer have a reasonable expectation to be safe from the “hostile intrusion” of having their activities secretly video recorded once Brindle entered the residence, and although there is nothing in the former version of OCGA § 16-11-62 (2) to show that the reasonable expectation to be safe from “hostile intrusion or surveillance” under the statute is coextensive with one’s “reasonable expectation of privacy” under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, we have in the past looked to Fourth Amendment jurisprudence as a guide when interpreting the scope of privacy protected by OCGA § 16-11-62.[[84]]

Grant disagreed with looking to the Fourth Amendment. She noted that in contexts where “government agents were alleged to have illegally surveilled criminal defendants,” “it is no surprise at all to look toward the Fourth Amendment, which serves as a constitutional boundary to the behavior of the government. But here, in analyzing the actions taken by private parties, the Fourth Amendment provides something less than a useful guide; in fact, applying Fourth Amendment rules may even serve to confuse rather than clarify the meaning of the statute.”[85] She continued:

To begin, much of what the majority applies as seminal Fourth Amendment law had not yet been announced by the United States Supreme Court at the time that OCGA § 16-11-62 was drafted. The “private place” definition at issue here was passed by the General Assembly in April 1967, while the United States Supreme Court did not issue its Katz decision until December of that same year.

Nor am I as certain as my colleague that when the General Assembly redefined “private place” to constitute “a place where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy,” the legislature was “squarely invoking the modern Fourth Amendment test.” Concurring op. at 634, 807 S.E.2d 861. (Nahmias, J. concurring in part and concurring specially in part). Perhaps Fourth Amendment tests are more relevant under the new version of the statute—or perhaps not. After all, the amended statute still addresses a privacy interest quite different than the one that we all share against government search and seizure. But we need not make that determination until the proper case is before us, and I would decline to do so here.[86]

Grant also wrote a concurring-in-part-and-dissenting-in-part opinion (joined by Justice Hunstein) in Sponsler v. Sponsler.[87]

Writings

Although Grant does not appear to have published any law-review articles herself, she served as a research assistant for two law-review articles on national-security issues.[88] This interest appears to be a family affair, as her husband once worked at the CIA.[89]

Overall Assessment

Justice Britt Grant appears, like Newsom and Branch before her, to be a mainstream conservative nominee to the Eleventh Circuit.  With the exception of Foster v. Chatman, Grant does not appear to have participated as a lead counsel in any particularly politically charged cases, and even in Foster, the extent of her participation is not clear. Nor, from the materials I have been able to check myself–her amicus briefs notwithstanding, and those do not list her as counsel–does she appear to have publicly expressed positions on the broader constitutional and civil-right questions that would invariably come before her as an Eleventh Circuit judge. Her record as a justice on the Georgia Supreme Court seems to be in line with the other justices on that court–broad unanimity. Her membership and participation in the Federalist Society confirms her conservative views, but her appointment is unlikely–in the short term–to affect the ideological makeup of the court given that the judge she would be replacing is also more conservative.


[1] State Bar of Georgia, Hon. Britt Cagle Grant, https://www.gabar.org/MemberSearchDetail.cfm?ID=MTEzNDAz.

[7] CLOSER LOOK, A new era begins for Georgia’s Supreme Court Deal appointed half of state’s 24 justices to 2 top appellate courts, Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Jan. 10, 2017, 2017 WLNR 804272.

[9] Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for December 12, 2016, GaPundit, Dec. 12, 2016, 2016 WLNR 37904671.

[10] State’s chief justice visits Cairo, Thomasville Times-Enterprise (GA), May 18, 2017, 2017 WLNR 15729555.

[12] Sen. Comm. on the Judiciary, 115th Cong. Britt Grant: Questionnaire for Judicial Nominees (Grant SJQ) at 5, https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Grant%20SJQ.pdf.

[16] The Latest And Greatest In President Trump’s Judicial Nominations (Part 2), https://abovethelaw.com/2018/01/the-latest-and-greatest-in-president-trumps-judicial-nominations-part-2/2/

[31] Fulton County v. City of Atlanta, 2016 WL 3043850, at *3-9, *24 (Ga. 2016).

[32] McKinney v. Fuciarelli, 2015 WL 10549708, at *3, *18 (Ga.).

[33] Foster v. Ga. Reg’l Transp. Auth., 2015 WL 1576408, *24 (Ga.).

[34] Olvera v. University System of Ga.’s Bd. of Regents, 2015 WL 4641675, *11 (Ga.) (emphasis added).

[35] In Interest of B.R.F., 332 Ga. App. 49, 50, 770 S.E.2d 912, 914 (2015), vacated sub nom. In Interest of B.R.F, 299 Ga. 294, 788 S.E.2d 416 (2016).

[36] In the Interest of B.R.F.F/K/A B.R.M., A Child., 2015 WL 5822948, at *15, *17-18 (2015).

[37] Georgia v. McCarthy, No. 15-14035, 2016 WL 2897733 (C.A.11); Georgia v. McCarthy, No. 15-14035, 2016 WL 3227576 (C.A.11); Georgia v. McCarthy, No. 15-14035, 2015 WL 6163726 (C.A.11); Georgia v. McCarthy, No. 15-14035, 2015 WL 5608569 (C.A.11).

[38] Nat’l Ass’n of Mfrs. v. Dep’t of Def., 138 S. Ct. 617 (2018).

[40] Grant SJQ at 44-45.

[42] Lejeune v. McLaughlin, 299 Ga. 546, 789 S.E.2d 191 (2016).

[43] No. 15-971, 2016 WL 1298204 (U.S.).

[44] Alves v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga., 804 F.3d 1149, 1153 (11th Cir. 2015).

[45] Alves v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga., 2016 WL 1298204, *9-10 (2016).

[46] Alves v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga., 804 F.3d 1149, 1153 (11th Cir. 2015) (Martin, J., dissenting).

[47] Alves v. Bd. of Regents of the Univ. Sys. of Ga., 2016 WL 1298204, *38-39 (2016) (citation, quotations, and alterations omitted).

[50] Foster v. Chatman, 136 S. Ct. 1737, 1755 (2016) (quotations and citation omitted).

[53] 559 U.S. 393 (2010).

[63] Grant SJQ at 43.

[64] Grant SJQ at 41.

[65] Ramirez v. State, 811 S.E.2d 416 (Ga. 2018); Barnett v. Caldwell, 302 Ga. 845, 809 S.E.2d 813 (2018); Sutherlin v. Sutherlin, 301 Ga. 581, 802 S.E.2d 204 (2017); Daniel v. State, 301 Ga. 783, 804 S.E.2d 61 (2017); Lebis v. State, 302 Ga. 750, 808 S.E.2d 724 (2017); Chrysler Grp. LLC v. Walden, No. S17G0832, 2018 WL 1323992 (Ga. Mar. 15, 2018); Simpkins v. State, No. S18A0063, 2018 WL 2089505 (Ga. May 7, 2018).

[66] Goodrum v. State, No. S17A1748, 2018 WL 1323269 (Ga. Mar. 15, 2018); Diversified Holdings, LLP v. City of Suwanee, 302 Ga. 597, 807 S.E.2d 876 (2017).

[67] Barnett v. Caldwell, 302 Ga. 845, 809 S.E.2d 813 (2018); Chrysler Grp. LLC v. Walden, No. S17G0832, 2018 WL 1323992 (Ga. Mar. 15, 2018).

[68] Barnett v. Caldwell, 302 Ga. 845, 852–53, 809 S.E.2d 813, 819 (2018) (Melton, J., concurring specially) (citation omitted).

[69] Chrysler Grp. LLC v. Walden, No. S17G0832, 2018 WL 1323992, at *1 (Ga. Mar. 15, 2018).

[70] Chrysler Grp. LLC v. Walden, No. S17G0832, 2018 WL 1323992, at *9 (Ga. Mar. 15, 2018) (quotations and citations omitted).

[71] Chrysler Grp. LLC v. Walden, No. S17G0832, 2018 WL 1323992, at *8 (Ga. Mar. 15, 2018).

[78] https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=17412431040748197491&hl=en&as_sdt=6&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr.

[79] Drews v. State, 810 S.E.2d 502 (Ga. 2018); Undisclosed LLC v. State, 302 Ga. 418, 807 S.E.2d 393 (2017).

[80] Schumacher v. City of Roswell, 301 Ga. 635, 641, 803 S.E.2d 66, 71–73 (2017) (Grant, J., concurring) (footnotes and citation omitted).

[81] State v. Cohen, 302 Ga. 616, 807 S.E.2d 861 (2017).

[84] State v. Cohen, 302 Ga. 616, 629, 807 S.E.2d 861, 871–72 (2017).

[85] State v. Cohen, 302 Ga. 616, 635, 807 S.E.2d 861, 875 (2017) (Grant., J., concurring specially in part).

[86] State v. Cohen, 302 Ga. 616, 635-36, 807 S.E.2d 861, 875–76 (2017) (Grant., J., concurring specially in part).

[87] Sponsler v. Sponsler, 301 Ga. 600, 800 S.E.2d 564 (2017).

[88] Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, “Securing” the Nation: Law, Politics, and Organization at the Federal Security Agency, 1939-1953, 76 U. Chi. L. Rev. 587 (2009); Dara Kay Cohen et. al., Crisis Bureaucracy: Homeland Security and the Political Design of Legal Mandates, 59 Stan. L. Rev. 673 (2006).