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Opinion | Justice Sarah Stewart embodies the very best of Alabama

We deserve to have confidence in who we send to do justice in Montgomery. 

Associate Justice Sarah Stewart Campaign photo

When I started wading into Alabama politics as a newly eligible voter in 2022, I knew that I wanted to support candidates who represent the people of Alabama not only in political ideology but also in character. With that in mind, I vehemently supported now Senator Katie Britt when her poll numbers were in the single digits and the self-described “boring and predictable” Justice Greg Cook. I saw how their faith, integrity, and kindness guided them in their day-to-day lives, and Alabama recognized those same traits, overwhelmingly electing them both that November. 

In an incredibly divided political landscape that has constantly been marred by scandal and corruption, many of Alabama’s state and local leaders give me hope for the future of the state and nation I love so deeply. Beyond Senator Britt and Justice Cook, I’ve witnessed how hardworking and honest Senator Garlan Gudger and House Majority Leader Scott Stadthagen are. I’ve seen State Auditor Andrew Sorrell and Treasurer Young Boozer’s thoughtful attention to making sure precious taxpayer dollars are protected and used wisely. These leaders truly care about the Yellowhammer State, and they showcase the humble, kind, and honest nature of the more than five million Alabamians they serve every day. 

Because I want our state and local leaders to embody the very best of Alabama, I’m proud to support Justice Sarah Stewart’s campaign for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court this cycle. When I first met Justice Stewart, I was particularly impressed by her integrity. She consistently makes a point to not discuss issues that may come before the Court so that her impartiality remains intact, and she’s thoughtful and responsible when speaking about her profession. On a more personal level, I know Justice Stewart to be genuine, kind, and respectful to everyone she meets. I’ve often described her to other Alabamians as “a truly salt-of-the-earth individual.” When I last saw her at the Jefferson County GOP meeting on January 20, I let her know that I was there to support her in the straw poll happening that day. She was the underdog in the poll, and she ultimately lost to her opponent, Bryan Taylor.

The next morning, though, I woke up to a Facebook message from Sarah Stewart. She had taken the time out of her morning to let me know how much she appreciated my support and offered to speak to The University of Alabama College Republicans, where I serve as Chairman, anytime, no matter what happens in the March 5 primary. To me, this shows exactly who Sarah Stewart is. She’s not just some establishment politician who flashes a pretty smile and expects your support. She truly wants to earn the support and trust of Alabamians because we deserve to have confidence in who we send to do justice in Montgomery. 

Knowing this as well as I do, it’s incredibly disturbing to see the lack of integrity coming from her opposition. Bryan Taylor has gone from Mobile to Muscle Shoals and cheaply impugned Justice Stewart’s conservative values every step of the way. He’s raced to label her “woke” in a desperate attempt to scare Alabamians into voting against her. In reality, Mr. Taylor, an attorney with zero experience on the bench, has cherry-picked bits and pieces of Justice Stewart’s extensive legal career to try to characterize her as a radical liberal. In my view, this shameless fear-mongering is exactly what Alabama doesn’t need in our politics or our state government. 

Here’s the deal: if Alabamians want a Supreme Court headed by an arrogant opportunist who has taken every chance to demonize a dedicated public servant who happens to be running against him, we should settle for Bryan Taylor. On the other hand, if we want a Chief Justice who reflects our values and character, who is intelligent and thoughtful, and who embodies the very best of Alabama, we should overwhelmingly support Justice Sarah Stewart. I know which of those options I’ll be picking, and I hope Alabama will join me in supporting Sarah Stewart for Chief Justice on March 5. 

Riley McArdle currently serves as Chairman of The University of Alabama College Republicans and Chief of Staff of the College Republican Federation of Alabama. Neither organization has or will endorse a candidate in the 2024 race for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and this essay does not constitute or imply support from either organization.

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