McCullough elected to VA Supreme Court

McCullough elected to VA Supreme Court

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The battle over who should fill a vacancy on the Virginia Supreme Court has come to an end with the House and Senate electing appeals court Judge Stephen McCullough to the seat.

Republicans unanimously backed  McCullough, assuring his election. They hailed him as an experienced and respected judge while decrying the lengthy process of filling the post.

"Despite repeated misguided attempts to circumvent the clear language of the Constitution of Virginia, legislators reaffirmed their exclusive responsibility to elect judges to Virginia's courts," said House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford). "Judge McCullough is an eminently qualified jurist who will make an outstanding addition to Virginia's highest court.  We are grateful to him for his willingness to serve the Commonwealth."

Democrats accused Republicans of "back-door politics and nasty rhetoric," accusing the Senate of breaking rules by electing McCullough during a floor amendment to an existing resolution. They say McCullough "could not be properly vetted in Committees" and lawmakers had less than 24 hours to review his candidacy.

"From the very beginning, Republican leadership has focused on denying a qualified Justice, Jane Roush, from keeping her seat on the Supreme Court," said David J. Toscano, Democratic Leader. "At the last minute, they proposed a candidate that had a 15-minute hearing and did not receive the vetting that occurred for Justice Roush. This process has been political from the start, and does a disservice to the judicial selection process and the citizens of the Commonwealth."

McCullough fills the vacancy on the Virginia Supreme Court left by Justice LeRoy Millette.  Before serving on the Court of Appeals, he also worked in the Attorney General's Office from 1999-2011, serving in various senior level capacities.

McCullough was the latest in a string of names floated for the nomination, including former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli withdrew his name from consideration on Wednesday.

The controversy has continued for months after Gov. Terry McAuliffe's two emergency appointments for Justice Jane Marum Roush expired.

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