Sebastian County Circuit Judge Gunner DeLay announced his candidacy for the Arkansas Supreme Court position 6, currently held by Justice Karen Baker. DeLay has served on the bench since he was appointed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in 2018. He was re-elected as circuit judge without opposition in 2020.
DeLay cited his 30 years of legal experience and history of public service as two factors that make him well qualified to serve on the Arkansas Supreme Court. DeLay’s public service record includes serving in the Arkansas Legislature from 1995 to 2003, as both a state representative and state senator; being appointed by Gov. Huckabee to fill a two-year term as Sebastian County Prosecuting Attorney in 2007; and serving as Fort Smith District Judge in 2018 and 2019. As circuit judge, DeLay has handled trials involving civil litigation as well as felony criminal cases.
DeLay explained that his judicial philosophy is modeled after Justices Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.
“I am a strong believer in judicial restraint when it comes to interpreting statutes and the constitution,” he said. “Judges should be guided by the original intent of the framers and the plain language of the text, as opposed to making law that fits their own political agenda.”
DeLay said his motivation for running for the supreme court is simple.
“The supreme court is the last line of defense for protecting the rights of the people; rights that include free speech, the right to bear arms, and due process of law. The stakes in the race are high because what courts decide today determines the kind of world our kids and grandkids live in tomorrow,” he said.
DeLay also noted the importance of electing judges who are not persuaded by outside influences.
“It is critically important we elect judges who are independent and unafraid. I demonstrated that type of courage as a state legislator, and will continue to be that type of justice on the supreme court,” he said.
In his announcement, DeLay said: “Every day as judge comes with its own set of challenges, but I feel blessed to get to do something I love and enjoy so much. I look forward to traveling the four corners of the state to earn the trust and votes of everyday Arkansans.”
DeLay has been married to his wife Robin for 36 years. They have four children and two grandchildren.
The term of office for supreme court associate justices is eight years. The election will be held on May 24, 2022.