Georgia Law Professor Harlan Cohen on “Metaphors of International Law”

Harlan G. Cohen, Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of the Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law, has posted “Metaphors of International Law”, to appear in International Law’s Invisible Frames – Social Cognition and Knowledge Production in International Legal Processes.

Set to be published by Oxford University Press in 2021, the volume is co-edited by Andrea Bianchi, Professor of International Law at Switzerland’s Graduate Institute Geneva, and Moshe Hirsch, Maria Von Hofmannsthal Chair in International Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Cohen presented the essay at a European Society of International Law workshop in Israel last December (prior post).

Here’s the abstract:

This chapter explores international law in search of its hidden and not-so-hidden metaphors. In so doing, it discovers a world inhabited by states, where rules are mined or picked when ripe, where trade keeps boats forever afloat on rising tides. But is also unveils a world in which voices are silenced, inequality is ignored, and hands are washed of responsibility.

International law is built on metaphors. Metaphors provide a language to describe and convey the law’s operation, help international lawyers identify legal subjects and categorize situations in doctrinal categories, and provide normative justifications for the law. Exploring their operation at each of these levels, this chapter describes the ways metaphors allow international lawyers to build a shared, tangible universe of legal meaning. But it also reveals how metaphors simultaneously help hide international law’s dark side, blind international lawyers to alternative ways of organizing the world, and prejudge legal outcomes. Metaphors, a key building block of the international law we know, become key also to its demolition, restoration, or remodeling.

The chapter is now available at SSRN.

Georgia Law Professor Christopher Bruner presents to International Monetary Fund on corporations and sustainability

Professor Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, recently presented “The Corporation as Technology: Re-Calibrating Corporate Governance for a Sustainable Future” to the International Monetary Fund, a 75-year-old organization of 189 countries that, operating within the United Nations system, works to “foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.”

Bruner’s online presentation was organized by the IMF Legal Department and moderated by Rhoda Weeks-Brown, Director of the Legal Department and the IMF’s General Counsel.  Attendees included staff lawyers and economists from across the IMF.

His talk was based on the book that he is currently writing, which is due to be published by Oxford University Press next year.

Brutal Peace: Lieber Code, NATO mission, and personal journey, by Georgia Law 3L Miles S. Porter


In this item, Miles S. Porter, a J.D. candidate in the University of Georgia School of Law Class of 2021, reflects on his Spring 2020 full-semester externship at NATO HQ SACT in Norfolk, Virginia. Miles’ background includes: B.A. degree in international relations and German, University of South Carolina 2011; U.S. Army active duty 2013-2018, including tour in Afghanistan; and U.S. Army reservist since 2018.

Peace can be brutal. I am reminded of this axiom as an unwelcome silence invades my office space from the street below. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought life to what some have called a “peaceful” and “virtual” standstill. But with an unprecedented 30-plus million Americans claiming unemployment in the last month, “brutal” seems a more appropriate descriptor.

Like many of my peers, I finished my spring semester externship from home, a mere 800 socially distanced miles from my worksite, the NATO headquarters in Norfolk. Early on, I had looked forward to watching the 30th flag raised at Norfolk in honor of North Macedonia’s recent membership, to enjoying the parade of nations at the NATO Festival, and to hearing former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation General James Mattis speak at the Norfolk Forum. Instead I am at home, reflecting.

While America finds itself embroiled in yet another metaphorical war, against COVID,  perhaps it is appropriate then that my thoughts have ultimately turned to war itself. Specifically, they have turned to a theory of war that decries the paradox of a “humane war.” This paradox is explored in the 2012 book I read as part of my externship tutorial: Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History, by Yale Law Professor John Fabian Witt. A compelling narrative about one of the first codifications of the laws of war and perhaps one of the earliest uses of lawfare, Lincoln’s Code is more page-turning adventure story than legal treatise.

The book’s conclusions, far from uncontroversial, initially resonated with me. But they also raised important questions about the role of NATO, the rule of law, and the future of warfare. This post will examine those questions, then end with some thoughts on my NATO experience.

Now to “Old Hundred.”

“Old Hundred”

The U.S. War Department issued General Order No. 100, also known as the Lieber Code, in May 1863, at the height of America’s bloodiest war. Commissioned by President Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, and endorsed by the General-in-Chief of all Union Armies, Henry Halleck—an attorney himself—the “Old Hundred” was a necessary contribution to the Union’s war efforts. First, it helped frame the conflict in legal terms, extending law of war protections to prisoners and proving to foreign states that the Union’s actions were in fact legitimate. Second, it enabled Lincoln to achieve his goal of emancipation.

Lincoln had won the 1860 election on a platform that denounced the expansion of slavery into new states. This precipitated the secession of South Carolina even while James Buchanan was still President, and set the nation on the path to civil war.

The story of The Code is told in tandem with the story of its author, and the maxims within are better read as a story of lessons learned. While Francis Lieber was an academic, a professor first at the University of South Carolina and later at what is now Columbia University, he was also a soldier. He was someone who had his family and his life torn apart by war. His sons fought on opposite sides during the conflict he helped to end. Rather than devote himself to pacifism, however, Lieber thought the call to arms was “the most honorable calling of mankind” and that “when carried on by civilized peoples, just wars were the way civilization spread. … Justice, not peace, [was] the highest ideal.”  (Witt 178). Not only did he believe in the importance of just wars, Lieber had kept slaves himself for a time and had seen firsthand the effects of slavery while living in South Carolina. It is in this context that “Old Hundred” should be read.

A notable characteristic of Lieber’s work was that it ran counter to then-conventional doctrine on the laws of war. Lieber openly spoke out against the end of war advocated by the leading contemporary European thinkers (182), preferring the writings of older theorists like Clausewitz. Humanizing wars, in Lieber’s opinion, had the paradoxical effect of prolonging human suffering.  He urged short and sharp wars because “the more earnestly and keenly wars are carried on, the better for humanity, for peace and civilization.” (184) This became the basis for the last sentence in Article 29 of his Code:

“Sharp wars are brief.”

The principle at the essence of the Code is military necessity. As Witt shows, military necessity became an almost absolute power, remarkable for what it forbade and more remarkable for what it allowed. Torture was expressly forbidden but the starvation of villages, emancipation of slaves as enemy property, and martial law were permitted, even expected. And yet the principle persisted, so that in the present day military necessity is one of the five accepted principles of the laws of armed conflict, or LOAC.

“Old Hundred” quickly gained traction abroad. European lawyers and politicians had been searching to codify their own “enlightened” laws of war after over a century of bloody conflicts. To this end, they concluded the very first Geneva Convention in 1864. Yet delegates at that Geneva Conference, influenced by some of the more pacifistic thinkers of the day, had gone in a somewhat different direction than Lieber. Their Convention outlawed some of the barbarities of war, reforming war in the hopes of one day ending it altogether. This approach foretold advancements in the laws of war that would occur in the wake of the World Wars of the 20th century.

Choosing an Approach

The Charter of the United Nations was signed and entered into force in 1945.  A short five years later, the North Atlantic Treaty, NATO’s founding document, likewise was signed and entered into force. Today, in 2020, Kabul, Afghanistan, has been the site of armed conflict and a nearly two-decades-long military presence by America and its NATO allies. The fact provokes questions:

  • Is the “forever war” a byproduct of the humanization of warfare?
  • Is that result what Francis Lieber had fought so vehemently against? Or is it merely indicative of the progress made towards the abolishment of warfare as an institution, which the United Nations and its progeny were designed to facilitate?
  • By sheathing the short war, have we lost a valuable weapon in our proverbial arsenal, holding ourselves to morals that our less scrupulous foes may not?

These were the questions that I faced after reading Lincoln’s Code.

Initially, I embraced the short, sharp wars advocated by Lieber, Tolstoy, and Clausewitz. Frustrated by a perceived lack of progress in recent war efforts and the absence of defining victories (ignoring a certain shipboard declaration of victory), my inclination was towards a strategy of power, shock, and awe. I thought that .

After further consideration, I think maybe this initial reaction was a bit rash: While I agree with many of the principles and ideals set forth by Lieber and his short-war sympathizers, I believe that he made some key mistakes. Like many who romanticize, he failed to account for the realities of the world.

If we do the same, we do so at our own peril.

Short wars reached their pinnacle with the Cold War. That is ironic since the Cold War was long – nearly a half-century prompted by the threat of the ultimate short war, nuclear war.  The international community has since demonstrated a strong aversion to this inhumane form of short war, to the point that in a near-peer conflict it may be more than ill-advised, it may be a nearly impossible strategy to pursue.  The changing instrumentalities of war, towards weapons of mass destruction, have altered the calculus of war.  As America’s near-peer adversaries retain an interest in a balanced geo-political environment, even short wars with non-nuclear equipped opponents seems unlikely.  The new realities of warfare include nuclear weapons, and as long as this remains true, the possibility of short wars will remain distant.

Post-Cold War NATO, or NATO 2.0, represents the other side of this equation. The military alliance, initially established as a After the USSR fell, NATO endured. It participated in some of the largest humanitarian efforts of the 20th and 21st centuries, in places like Kosovo, Haiti, and Afghanistan.

In truth, globalization, the threat of nuclear warfare, and a determined international effort to outlaw war have changed the face of warfare completely. Warfare today is about competition, about living in the gray areas of the law. It resembles humanitarian aid more than it does Gettysburg or Antietam.

Democracy, liberty, and the rule of law are the conquering tools of warfare in the 21st century. They have enabled the alliance to grow to 30 full-fledged members, to conclude official partnerships with 20 Partnership for Peace nations, as well as to develop relationships with numerous other nations from disparate corners of the earth, from Australia to Colombia to Pakistan. The great deterrents in today’s conflicts are not so much weapons as they are the financial costs of waging expeditionary wars and the potential damaging of financial systems. In this environment, communities of peace built on a common foundation are capable of outlasting more powerful foes.

NATO is also capable of holding its own during armed conflicts when they arise. (Another discussion could be had about member nations’ willingness to uphold their article 5 commitment of mutual defense, but that is a separate issue.) NATO retains flexibility in the deployment of its rules of engagement, which allow member nations to pursue their individual national interests while retaining a unity of effort. Effective management of NATO forces requires mastery of this concept by commanders across echelons. Once achieved, it leaves the alliance with plenty of capabilities to accomplish the mission.

Irish poet Robert Lynd once said:

“The belief in the possibility of a short, decisive war appears to be one of the most ancient and dangerous of human delusions.”

The short wars envisioned by Lieber require justice to be the prevailing value in the pursuit of national objectives, and that in turn requires the actors pursuing these objectives to act justly.  The limited set of circumstances where this is achievable make his theory complicated enough to make unwise policy.  The abuses of the Code’s ideas that took place in subsequent conflicts, like the one in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, make this clear.  As Witt demonstrated in Lincoln’s Code, the principle of military necessity acted as a cloak that attempted to legitimize abhorrent acts.

Whether organizations like NATO go too far in their pursuit of peace, whether they are influenced too much by groups trying to humanize an inherently inhumane act, strike me as unnecessary questions in today’s environment. Competition will indeed manifest itself as “forever wars.” I find this outcome preferable to the alternative of a persistent nuclear threat. 

Final Thoughts

I have found that even dream jobs can begin to show their faults after a few weeks. While NATO certainly suffers from its shortcomings, this job never lost its appeal. In fact, most of what I initially saw as shortcomings eventually appeared to have been deliberate components of NATO’s grand design. The endless hours needed to exhaust every opinion on a topic until consensus is reached certainly can be challenging. The fact that every nation gets a voice at all, however, is truly amazing.

One of my mentors at NATO once told me,

“The beauty of NATO is that it is.”

I hope that despite its challenges in the future, it will always continue to be.

Former DHS secretary lauds Georgia Law alumnus Chuck Allen on 20-year anniversary as DoD deputy general counsel for international affairs

An alumnus and member of our Dean Rusk International Law Center Council has garnered well-deserved praise from a fellow public servant and longtime colleague.

In “A Tribute to Charles A. Allen,” published Friday at Lawfare, Jeh Johnson, a partner in the Paul Weiss law firm and the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security from 2013 to 2017, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the day that Allen took up the post of Deputy General Counsel (International Affairs) at the U.S. Department of Defense. Johnson wrote:

“To the benefit of us all, he remains in office today, with the vast responsibility of overseeing the legal aspects of the U.S. military’s operations abroad.

“Put simply: Chuck is one of the finest public servants I know. He embodies the best in federal civilian service.”

Johnson, also former general counsel both of the Department of Defense and of the U.S. Air Force, took particular note of Allen’s service, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, “at the legal epicenter of the U.S. military’s armed conflicts against al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Taliban; the Iraq War; the conflicts in Libya and Syria; the maritime disputes with China and Iran; and many other conflicts, treaties and defense issues too numerous to list.”

Allen, Johnson continued, is “an earnest, low-key public official who consistently works long hours, mentors young national security lawyers and grinds out an extraordinary volume of work” – and the recipient of a Presidential Rank Award.

We at the University of Georgia School of Law are proud to call Allen (JD’82) an alumnus, former Research Editor of the Georgia Law Review, and author of two articles published in our Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law: “Civilian Starvation and Relief During Armed Conflict: The Modern Humanitarian Law” (1989) and “Countering Proliferation: WMD on the Move” (2011).

As stated in Allen’s DoD biography, he also earned an undergraduate degree from Stanford and an LL.M. from George Washington University. His service in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General Corps included a stint as Deputy Legal Adviser, National Security Council, and Attorney-Adviser, Office of Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State. In his current position, Allen’s responsibilities include

“legal advice on Department of Defense planning and conduct of military operations in the war on terrorism and the war in Iraq, including the law of armed conflict and war crimes, war powers, coalition relations and assistance, and activities of U.S. forces under international law and relevant UN Security Council Resolutions; arms control negotiations and implementation, non-proliferation, and cooperative threat reduction; status of forces agreements; cooperative research and development programs; international litigation; law of outer space; and multilateral agreements.”

(credit for 2015 International Committee of the Red Cross photo, above, of Charles A. “Chuck” Allen at Minerva–ICRC conference on International Humanitarian Law, held in Jerusalem 15-17 November 2015)

Georgia Law Professor Bruner presents on corporations and sustainability in University of Oslo Law forum

Professor Christopher Bruner, the Stembler Family Distinguished Professor in Business Law here at the University of Georgia School of Law, presented yesterday in Company Law Forum, a video-seminar offered by Research Group Companies, Markets and Sustainability, a unit within the University of Oslo Faculty of Law.

The Research Group described Bruner’s presentation, “Private Power and Public Good: Harnessing the Corporation for a Sustainable Future”, as follows:

The corporate form is widely described, and on some accounts defined, by reference to a core set of purportedly fixed, intrinsic attributes. Such depictions of the corporate form typically reflect strong assumptions about which corporate constituencies should be regarded as internal participants in the corporation, and go hand-in-glove with strong theoretical claims about the corporation’s core utility and corporate law’s correlative content. Christopher Bruner argues, however, that such rigid and static depictions of the corporate form and corporate law have fundamentally misconstrued the nature of the entity, giving rise to a host of corporate pathologies that include excessive risk-taking and cost externalization without regard for environmental and social impacts.

Such hidebound conceptions of the corporation have effectively sacrificed the flexibility and dynamism of the corporate form, thereby obscuring potential governance-related regulatory options that could offer promising solutions to a host of vexing problems. In his new book project, tentatively titled Private Power and Public Good: Harnessing the Corporation for a Sustainable Future, Bruner will re-conceptualize the corporation, not as a fixed and rigid set of legal characteristics but rather as a dynamic legal technology that can be calibrated and re-calibrated in varying contexts, and over time, in response to a dynamic landscape. He will then build upon that framework to explore the corporation’s potential to contribute to environmental, social, and economic sustainability.

Georgia Law Professor Amann presents on sovereignties, Nuremberg woman in online Global History seminar

In this post Professor Diane Marie Amann, the Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of our Dean Rusk International Law Center here at the University of Georgia School of Law, discusses her most recent presentation, at an innovative online seminar.

What an honor to present my work in progress, “Intersectional Sovereignties: Dr. Aline Chalufour, Woman at Nuremberg – and at Paris, Ottawa, and Dalat” last week in “Global History and International Law”, a months-long seminar under way online.

Organizer of this superb scholarly offering is Dr. Anne-Sophie Schoepfel of the Institut d’études politiques de Paris, better known as SciencesPo. Her affiliation struck me as serendipitous, given that the subject of my paper was a graduate of SciencesPo. Born in 1899, Chalufour was also the 6th woman ever to earn a Ph.D. in international law from the University of Paris. In 1945-1946, she was the only woman lawyer on the French team that joined U.S., British, and Soviet allies in prosecuting vanquished Nazi leaders at Nuremberg.

Chalufour is one of the women on whom I’m focusing in my book-length study of women’s roles at that first Nuremberg trial, before the International Military Tribunal. But the richness of her experiences inspired this separate article.

Among the other highlights in Chalufour’s 90-year life: practice before the Paris Bar; activism in national and international feminist groups; teaching at colonial schools in what’s now Vietnam; serving de Gaulle’s Fighting French as a propagandist in Canada; gathering evidence about war crimes from liberated ex-detainees; taking part as the only French prosecutor in Britain’s first trial on Ravensbrück, a Nazi concentration camp for women; and, starting a few years after Nuremberg, service as a national judge.

My paper considers these episodes in light of of 3 theorizations: 1st, the shared sovereignty of the post-World War periods; 2d, sovereignty dynamics in colonial and imperial sites; and 3d, sovereignties of the person, imagined and corporeal. The paper then examines interrelations among these 3.

Serving as my discussant at last Wednesday’s session was Dr. George Giannakopoulos of King’s College London and NYU London. Numerous other participants offered valuable comments.

This was the 5th session in the seminar, which is slated to run through June 24 and has attracted law and history scholars from Asia and Latin America as well as Europe and North America. Next up, at 3 pm EDT this Wednesday, May 20, are 2 papers within the umbrella theme “Imperial Origins of the World Order”; details here.

What’s more, in due course Dr. Schoepfel and her SciencesPo colleagues are posting edited podcasts of each session. Already available at the seminar’s website and its YouTube channel:

  • “Epistemic Communities in Exile: Coining ‘Crimes against Humanity’ at London, 1940-45” by Dr. Kerstin von Lingen of the University of Vienna, Austria and author of a new journal article on this subject, as well as ‘Crimes against Humanity’. Eine Ideengeschichte der Zivilisierung von Kriegsgewalt 1864-1945 (Paderborn 2018), a monograph soon to be available in English. Discussants were Dr. Barak Kushner of the University of Cambridge, England, and Dr. Sabina Ferhadbegović of Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena, Germany.
  • “Genocide in Historical Perspective. The Language of Trangression” by Dr. Dirk Moses, of the University of Sydney, Australia, and author of The Problems of Genocide. Permanent Security and the Language of Transgression (forthcoming Cambridge University Press). Discussant was Dr. Charles Maier of Harvard University.
  • “The Nuremberg Moment. International Trial, American Lawyers and the Racial Question” by Dr. Guillaume Mouralis of Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin, and author of Le Moment Nuremberg. Le procès international, les lawyers et la question raciale (Presses de Sciences Po 2019). Discussant was Dr. Elizabeth Borgwardt of Washington University in St. Louis.

The full list of seminar participants is here; full schedule and registration information, here.

(cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann blog)

Georgia Law Professor Jason A. Cade secures grant to address needs of immigrants, other vulnerable communities during COVID-19 crisis

Jason A. Cade, J. Alton Hosch Associate Professor of Law and Director of the Community Health Law  Partnership Clinic here at the University of Georgia School of Law, has secured a $10,000 Flom Incubator Grant from the Skadden Foundation to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on immigrant families and other vulnerable communities in Athens, Georgia, and surrounding rural areas.

The grant will enable Cade and a coalition of partners to develop and launch a model for remote screening, advice, and advocacy, aimed at addressing these communities’ most pressing needs for civil legal assistance. If successful, the model could be expanded to other communities, in Georgia and elsewhere, both during and beyond the current pandemic.

Named after a late partner of the Skadden law firm, Flom Incubator Grants support novel legal projects undertaken in the public interest by former Skadden Fellows – like Professor Cade, who, before joining the Georgia Law faculty, was a Skadden Public Interest Fellow at The Door, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to the development of young people.

Georgia Law Professor Amann in symposium on next Prosecutor of International Criminal Court

In this post Professor Diane Marie Amann, the Emily & Ernest Woodruff Chair in International Law and Faculty Co-Director of our Dean Rusk International Law Center at the University of Georgia School of Law, discusses her recent international law commentary.

Caution in giving too much credit, or blame, to one individual formed the focus of my contribution to last week’s symposium on “The Next ICC Prosecutor.”

Entitled “Placing the Prosecutor within the International Criminal Justice Project,” my post appeared Friday at Opinio Juris, cosponsor along with Justice in Conflict of the online symposium.

My post began by welcoming the rich dialogue – in anticipation of December’s election of the 3d Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court – that had unfolded all week. Fueling that discussion were contributions from a couple dozen commentators on international criminal law: Ewan Brown, Danya Chaikel, David Crane, Geoff Dancy, Tom Dannenbaum, Christian De Vos, Elizabeth Evenson, Kate Gibson, James Goldston, Douglas Guilfoyle, Kevin Jon Heller, Mark Kersten, Patryk Labuda, Stephen Lamony, Luis Moreno Ocampo, Jonathan O’Donohue, Mariana Pena, Priya Pillai, William Schabas, Melinda Taylor, Valerie Oosterveld, Beth Van Schaack, and Kate Vigneswaran, Alex Whiting, and William H. Wiley.

My post then pointed to risks involved in “placing too much weight on the person and position of Prosecutor.” These included:

  • the risk of generating expectations, “inevitably doomed to disappoint”; and
  • the risk that “the very association of a complex project with a lone person or position” obscures the myriad ways that many other actors “play roles, in helping to construct perceptions of the project and in contributing, or not, to the project.”

My contribution is available in full here. For additional posts in the symposium, see list here.

(Cross-posted from Diane Marie Amann blog)

Invitation to virtual AtlAS Lecture this Thursday, cosponsored by our Center and featuring international arbitration expert Horacio Grigera Naón

The University of Georgia School of Law Dean Rusk International Law Center is honored to host the 5th annual Atlanta International Arbitration Society Lecture at 6 p.m. this Thursday, April 23. The event will be held remotely this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

Delivering the lecture will be Dr. Horacio Grigera Naón, whose expertise in international arbitration spans more than 30 years, and who is now serving as a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence and the Director of the International Commercial Arbitration Center of the Washington College of Law, American University, Washington, D.C.

Grigera Naón’s previous positions include Secretary General of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce and Senior Counsel for the International Finance Corporation. He holds LL.M. and S.J.D degrees from Harvard Law School, LL.B and LL.D. degrees from the School of Law of the University of Buenos Aires, and is a member of the Bars of the Argentine Federal, New York, District of Columbia and United States Supreme Court Bars.

This lecture series began in 2016 in honor of Glenn Hendrix, the founding president of the Atlanta International Arbitration Society, a non-profit organization that seeks to grow the international arbitration community in the southeastern United States. AtlAS sponsors the annual event in conjunction with academic institutions in the region – including Georgia Law, a founding AtlAS member.

This year’s event will begin with introductory remarks from AtlAS President Philip W. “Whit” Engle and Georgia Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge.

Joining AtlAS and Georgia Law’s Dean Rusk International Law Center in presenting this year’s event is King & Spalding LLP, a founding law firm of AtlAS.

Registration for the free event is required and available here.

Appointed to state’s Supreme Court: Judge Carla Wong McMillian, alumna of Georgia Law and past contributor to this blog, having posted about her Asian-American heritage

Delighted to announce the appointment to the Supreme Court of Georgia of the Honorable Carla Wong McMillian, who has served as a judge on the Georgia Court of Appeals since 2013. She is a distinguished alumna of the University of Georgia School of Law – and also, we’re proud to note, a past contributor to this blog.

She will replace another Georgia Law alum and in turn be replaced by another Georgia Law alum; respectively, just-retired Supreme Court Justice Robert Benham and Superior Court Judge Verda Colvin, who is based in Macon.

Born in Augusta, Georgia, Carla Wong McMillian earned her Georgia Law J.D. degree summa cum laude in 1998. She becomes the first Asian-American woman in the Southeast to be put on her state’s highest court; additionally, she is first Asian Pacific American state appellate judge ever to be appointed in the Southeast, and the first Asian American person to be elected to a statewide office in Georgia. Her professional service includes a term as President-Elect of the Georgia Asian Pacific American Bar Association (GAPABA).

She reflected on these achievements in “My family history & path to the bench,” a 2016 post at this blog, which reprinted an essay she’d written for the Georgia Asian American Times. Available in full here, the essay began:

“I am proud to be an American. I am equally as proud of my Asian American heritage.”