Mills formally announces for Supreme Court
By Philip Moulden
Five-month Supreme Court Justice Mike Mills kicked off his campaign for election to a full term in Tupelo Wednesday, vowing to serve with energy and integrity.
“Having practiced, written and interpreted the law, I have the perspective and experience that no other candidate can bring to this position,” Mills told more than a dozen supporters in a morning appearance at the Lee County Courthouse.
“I believe I have demonstrated the temperament, education and experience to serve a full term on the Supreme Court,” Mills, an Itawamba County native, said.
“The decisions made by the Supreme Court can change how we do business, how we educate our children, and even how and where we worship our God. I want the folks I serve to know what a privilege it’s been, and that I have served with honesty and integrity.”
The nonpartisan election is scheduled Nov. 5. Justices are elected to eight-year, staggered terms, with three justices each from the northern, central and southern districts. Only one Northern District seat is on the ballot this year.
Mills, a veteran state representative, was named by Gov. Kirk Fordice last November to fill the unexpired term of retiring Chief Justice Armis Hawkins. At 39 the state’s youngest Supreme Court Justice, Mills joined the nine-member panel Dec. 4.
Mills was lauded Wednesday by supporters, who cited his character and legal and legislative records.
“Justice Mills knows the law and can wade through the legal jargon, but he also understands the intent of the law,” said Johnnie Kelso, a longtime friend from Itawamba County. “That’s why his decisions exemplify fairness, common sense, and the spirit of the law, qualities we expect from a Supreme Court justice.”
Mills said his youth signals an energetic approach to the job that will help bring the high court’s backlog under control.
Thanks to the state Court of Appeals, established last year under a bill authored by Mills, the Supreme Court case delays have shrunk from three and four years to two, Mills said.
“I think we’re two years away from being caught up,” Mills said. “The people deserve not only certain justice but swift justice.”
Mills said he will run an “aggressive, grass-roots campaign” around his court schedule, primarily from Friday afternoons through weekends, and he lauded backers who are lining up support in the 33 counties in the district.
“We’re booking appearances right up to November right now,” he said. “I want to get out there with the people.”
Later Wednesday, Mills made similar appearances in Hernando, Greenville and Jackson. Although Jackson is not in the Northern District, Mills campaign spokesman Mike Carpenter said the candidate has a lot of support in Jackson and the city’s television coverage reaches into the district.
The only other candidate to announce for the race is senior 1st Circuit Court Judge Thomas Gardner III of Tupelo. Gardner announced his candidacy in January but has not yet filed qualifying papers with the secretary of state. Mills filed Monday.
The qualifying deadline is May 10.