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Ky. Supreme Court Chief Justice Laurance VanMeter won’t run for reelection next year

VanMeter wearing black robe, blue tie, sitting in Supreme Court chambers, wood and partial American flag in background.
Administrative Office of the Courts
Chief Justice of the Kentucky Supreme Court Laurance B. VanMeter, serving the 5th Supreme Court District, is photographed Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2023, in the Supreme Court Chambers at the State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky.

Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice Laurance B. VanMeter announced he will not seek reelection next year. He has served in the high court’s top spot since January.

VanMeter was elected to the Supreme Court in 2016, serving the 5th Appellate Court District, which includes eight counties in central Kentucky: Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Franklin, Jessamine, Madison, Scott and Woodford counties.

Since he is not running for reelection, VanMeter will only have served one eight-year term on the state’s highest court. But he has a long history serving in Kentucky’s court system. He is one of only three justices in the state’s history to serve on all four levels of Kentucky’s united court system — district court, circuit court, appeals court and the Supreme Court.

VanMeter said in a statement he announced the decision early to give other “qualified judges and lawyers” the time to consider running for the seat.

“The greatest privileges of my professional life have been to serve the people of Central Kentucky as their Justice on the Court for the past seven years, and to have been elected by my colleagues as Chief Justice,” VanMeter said. “However, the time is right for me to begin a new chapter and turn the reins over to someone else.”

VanMeter is the only one of the Kentucky Supreme Court’s seven justices who would be up for reelection next year. VanMeter’s predecessor in the chief justice role Chief Justice John D. Minton Jr., who led the court for a dozen years before stepping down in 2022.

As a member of the Kentucky Supreme Court, VanMeter has presided over several controversial cases that rocked the state, including lawsuits over the state’s near-total ban on abortion, a school-choice tax credit andLouisville’s Castleman statue.

VanMeter said in his statement he is committed to completing his term “dedicated fully to the judicial process for the people of Kentucky.”

Sylvia is the Capitol reporter for Kentucky Public Radio, a collaboration including Louisville Public Media, WEKU-Richmond, WKU Public Radio and WKMS-Murray. Email her at sgoodman@lpm.org.