Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin (R) appointed former appeals judge David Buckingham to the Kentucky Supreme Court on March 27. Buckingham succeeds Bill Cunningham, who retired on January 31. A special election will be held on November 5 to elect a replacement to fill the remainder of Cunningham’s term.
Bevin chose Buckingham from a list of three potential nominees provided to him by the Kentucky Judicial Nominating Commission. Buckingham is Bevin’s first appointment to the seven-member court.
Buckingham will be the third member of the court appointed by a Republican governor. One justice was first appointed by a Democratic governor, and the three remaining justices first joined the court as the result of a nonpartisan election.
Buckingham graduated from Murray State University in 1974 and earned his J.D. from the University of Louisville’s Brandeis School of Law in 1977. He began serving as a judge for the 42nd District Court in 1982, then joined the 42nd Circuit Court in 1987 and the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 1997. He was a senior judge for the Court of Appeals from 2006 to 2010. In 2011, he retired from the bench and returned to private practice.
So far in 2019, there have been 11 supreme court vacancies across seven states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected. Republicans are responsible for filling nine of those vacancies, while Democrats are responsible for filling the other two. Eight of those vacancies have been filled.