Virginia Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth McClanahan is retiring on September 1, 2019. Under Virginia law, the Virginia General Assembly selects the justices of the supreme court. If the legislature is out of session, the governor appoints an interim justice who must be approved by the legislature. The Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly will choose a successor.
Selection of state supreme court justices in Virginia occurs through legislative selection. As outlined in Article VI of the Virginia Constitution, judges are selected by a majority vote of the Virginia General Assembly (the combined House of Delegates and Senate). Supreme court justices serve for twelve years and are subject to reappointment to additional terms by the legislature.
As of January 2019, Virginia was one of only two states in the country, the other being South Carolina, where judges were selected this way.
Four justices–McClanahan, Powell, Goodwyn, and Mims–on the seven-member Virginia Supreme Court were selected by a General Assembly with a Democratic-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled House. However, Republicans held a majority in the General Assembly overall. Justices McClanahan, Cleo Powell, and Bill Mims were selected when Republicans had a 77-61 majority. Justice S. Bernard Goodwyn was appointed by Gov. Tim Kaine (D) in 2007, while the legislature was out of session, and approved by the 74-63 Republican-majority General Assembly in 2008. Justices Donald Lemons, D. Arthur Kelsey, and Stephen McCullough were selected by a General Assembly with Republican control of both chambers.
McClanahan was first selected to this position by the Virginia General Assembly on July 29, 2011. She previously served on the Virginia Court of Appeals from 2003 to 2011. McClanahan obtained a J.D. from the University of Dayton School of Law in 1984.