The recent passing of Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Robin Wynne created an open seat on the state’s highest judicial body. The Arkansas Constitution gives the governor the authority to fill the vacancy and, on Monday, Governor Sarah Sanders announced her pick: former U.S. Attorney and Opportunity Arkansas advisory board member Cody Hiland.
In her announcement, Governor Sanders emphasize Hiland’s experience and qualifications, as well as his conservative credentials:
“I am pleased to announce I have selected a former prosecutor and U.S. Attorney, Cody Hiland, for this role. Cody brings a lifetime of legal experience to the job and has made service to Arkansas the centerpiece of his career.
This is the first time Arkansas’ Supreme Court will have a conservative majority. Cody will be there to call balls and strikes, interpreting state law as it was written and leaving the legislating to the legislature.”
Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, the Arkansas Supreme Court has just seven justices. Hiland’s appointment now tips the balance firmly towards the conservative side of the scale, so to speak: while the court is officially nonpartisan (although justices are elected), much like at the federal level, justices certainly have an ideological bent that informs their judicial philosophy.
Justices Barbara Webb, Shawn Womack, and Rhonda Wood are widely believed to be the most consistent in applying judicial restraint and a more conservative approach to matters before the Court (i.e., deferring to the legislature to make law, while respecting their constitutional role as law interpreters, rather than lawmakers).
Hiland’s judicial philosophy will almost certainly mirror these three justices, giving the Court a four-vote conservative majority.
Upon his appointment, Hiland briefly addressed the media:
“Justice Wynne’s passing was a loss for his family, the courts, and a loss for the state that elected him to positions of public trust on multiple occasions. And while we acknowledge the loss, we at the same time acknowledge that we have to engage in the sobering and serious responsibility of fulfilling the legal obligations necessary to move forward with the Court’s business.
I want to thank Governor Sanders for the faith she has placed in me to serve as an associate justice for the Supreme Court. I have been given a tremendous privilege to serve the people of this state, and I am both humbled by that opportunity and sobered by the opportunity in front of me.”
In addition to Hiland’s impressive legal resume, he has also served as an advisory board member for Opportunity Arkansas, working to help us shape our public safety policy platform.
As such, our organization released the following statement, thanking Cody for his commitment to the conservative cause:
“Cody Hiland's appointment to the Arkansas Supreme Court is welcome news for all Arkansans who value the rule of law. Cody has a long and distinguished history as a public servant to our state and our country. He has proven himself to be an ardent friend of our Constitution and will bring a firm-but-fair mentality to the bench that is much needed as Arkansas continues to grapple with record-high crime rates.
And as the Arkansas legend who ended the infamous Damascus speed trap that targeted citizens for years, Cody has also shown himself to be a strong advocate for the people when government oversteps. This balanced mindset is exactly what we need in our judiciary.
Much like he did as U.S. Attorney, Cody will serve the people of Arkansas with honor and distinction, taking seriously his new responsibility to interpret the law, not make it. I am proud to call Cody a friend and I deeply appreciate his wise advice and counsel as we have launched our organization. His love for the Land of Opportunity is unquestioned, and Arkansans should be delighted to have him serve them in this new role.”
As Arkansas continues to shift more and more towards limited government, the judiciary has been the primary branch of government that continued to lag behind. And we have all been reminded in recent weeks how important the judiciary is, as the Left has continued to weaponize it to protect their failed ideas of the past, attempting to overturn the will of the people’s legislature.
Now, with Justice Hiland joining the court, Arkansans can breathe a little easier, knowing that they have a majority of Supreme Court justices (at minimum) that will respect their role and use the court as a means of protection for the people, not a weapon for an ideological agenda.
Congratulations, Justice Hiland and the people of Arkansas. Our best days are yet ahead.