Arkansas District Judge To Run For State Supreme Court Seat

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas district judge has announced he's running for a seat on the state Supreme Court.

District Judge Chris Carnahan, 49, said Wednesday that he is seeking the post currently held by Robin F. Wynne on the Arkansas State Supreme Court.

Wynne, who has served as an associate justice in Position 2 since 2015, announced last month that he would run for a second eight-year term, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Three state Supreme Court seats are up for election next year.

Carnahan, who has served as the Division 1 state district court judge for Faulkner and Van Buren counties since Jan. 1, said the main reason he is running for the state's high court is “to put an originalist face on the interpretation of the laws passed by the Arkansas General Assembly or by the people of the state of Arkansas.”

Originalists interpret legislation and the Constitution based on the original understanding when it was adopted.

He told the Democrat-Gazette he believes in interpreting laws by looking at the actual text of legislation, and that the judiciary must "give deference to the legislative bodies.”

“I don’t even intend on being a super legislator and trying to enact laws from the bench nor do I intend to go willy-nilly in unique directions that are outside of the mainstream of the legal tradition,” Carnahan said. “In essence, what I want is to return the Arkansas Supreme Court in what I hope will be a majority from my election to an orginalist body.”

Carnahan has also served as general counsel for the state Board of Pharmacy, as a deputy prosecuting attorney in the 20th Judicial Circuit and the 15th Judicial Circuit, and as an associate in a private law firm. He was also executive director of the state Republican Party from 1999-2001.