Judge Steve C. Jones.

Judge Steve C. Jones.

Credit: Photo courtesy of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia

A federal judge who has presided over some of the most high-profile Georgia cases in recent years will take senior status starting in January, creating a new vacancy.

Judge Steve C. Jones, who was appointed to the bench by former President Barack Obama, became eligible for senior status in March. Jones has worked as an active district judge for 13 years.

“It has always been my goal and judicial practice to make sure everyone has their day in court, is treated fairly, is given respect, and receives an explanation for my decisions,” Jones said this week in a statement.

Jones has handled some of the hottest cases to come through the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, including challenges to Georgia’s abortion law, voting rules and political maps.

“The most satisfying part of my job has been receiving a case and moving it toward completion so that the parties receive an answer to the legal questions presented,” Jones said.

“The most challenging part of my job has been ensuring that cases proceed in a manner that does not delay justice but also affords due process and sufficient preparation time — in essence, balancing the need to move cases toward completion in a timely manner with the needs of parties who may request extensions of time to prepare their case.”

Jones ruled in 2020 that Georgia’s six-week abortion ban was unconstitutional at a time when Roe v. Wade was still the law of the land. He also ordered Republican lawmakers to redraw Georgia’s political maps after ruling that district lines created in 2021 illegally diluted the voting strength of Black voters.

The judge has also played a role in the ongoing fallout from the 2020 election. He rejected former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ request to have the case moved to federal court. Jones concluded that Meadows was working on behalf of the Trump campaign when he participated in the infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call in which Trump asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” enough to tilt the election in the outgoing president’s favor. 

This week, Georgia’s U.S. senators announced the application process to fill the vacancy. Sen. Jon Ossoff, who serves on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Raphael Warnock will jointly accept applications before making their recommendation to President Joe Biden.

Biden announced Wednesday that 200 federal judges have been confirmed since he took office, which the president touted as “another milestone in the effort to protect the freedoms and liberties of all Americans.” That includes federal judges Sarah Geraghty and Victoria Marie Calvert, who were appointed to the Northern District of Georgia in 2022.

“There is more work to do,” Biden said in a statement. “Going forward, I will continue my solemn responsibility of nominating individuals who have excelled in their professional careers, who reflect the communities they serve, and who apply the law impartially and without favoritism.”

Applications for the U.S. District Court Judge position can be found here and will be accepted until 5 p.m. Monday, June 3. 

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Georgia Recorder.