Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant, during oral arguments before the court in 2017. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)

Trump to nominate Justice Grant for federal appeals court

President Donald Trump on Tuesday will nominate Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant to fill an upcoming vacancy on the federal appeals court in Atlanta, according to an administration official familiar with the nomination.

If approved by the Senate, Grant, 40, would succeed Judge Julie Carnes, who will become a senior judge in June. She was appointed to the state appellate court bench by Gov. Nathan Deal in January 2017.

Savannah attorney Pat O’Connor, former president of the State Bar of Georgia, said the nomination comes as no surprise to him.

“Through her service on the Georgia Supreme Court, Justice Grant has proven herself to be a bright star, both intellectually and in terms of judicial philosophy,” O’Connor said. “She’s thoughtful, articulate and thorough.”

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The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta hears cases from Georgia, Alabama and Florida. The court, one rung below the U.S. Supreme Court, hears nationally significant matters involving the death penalty, voting rights, gun rights, immigration and the dividing line between church and state.

The 11th Circuit is allotted 12 judges, and Trump has moved quickly to put his own judges on the busy court. This is Trump’s third appointment. So far, the Senate has approved former Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Branch and Birmingham attorney Kevin Newsom to two positions.

Grant, an Atlanta native, attended Westminster Schools and graduated summa cum laude from Wake Forest. She obtained her law degree from Stanford University, where she was president of the school’s Federalist Society.

Before law school, Grant worked for President George W. Bush, serving in a number of domestic policy positions at the Office of Cabinet Affairs, the Domestic Policy Council and the USA Freedom Corps. She also worked as legislative correspondent and communications director for Deal in 2000 and 2001, when he was a U.S. Representative .

Before being put on the state Supreme Court, Grant served as the state’s Solicitor General — the chief appellate lawyer for the state Attorney General’s Office.

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