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General Assembly elects McCullough to state Supreme Court

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RICHMOND, Va. -- A day after former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli withdrew his name for consideration to fill an empty seat on the Virginia Supreme Court, the General Assembly has elected Judge Stephen R. McCullough to fill the vacancy.

“Today, the Virginia General Assembly fulfilled its constitutional duty by electing Judge McCullough to the Virginia Supreme Court,” House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said in a news release. “Judge McCullough is an eminently qualified jurist who will make an outstanding addition to Virginia’s highest court. We are grateful to him for his willingness to serve the Commonwealth.”

McCullough, who fills the vacancy left by Justice LeRoy Millette, worked in the Attorney General’s Office in various positions, including Solicitor General and as an Assistant Attorney General, from 1999-2011 before being elected to the Court of Appeals.

“Judge McCullough is an experienced appellate judge who will make significant contributions to the Supreme Court,” House Courts of Justice Committee Chairman Dave Albo (R-Fairfax) said. “Throughout the last 19 years, he served the Commonwealth with the utmost distinction. From his time in the Attorney General’s office as Solicitor General and an Assistant Attorney General to his current tenure on the Court of Appeals, Judge McCullough has gained wide respect from his peers.”

Cuccinelli pulls out

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli withdrew his name from consideration Wednesday. Cuccinelli, who ran for governor of Virginia in 2013, said Tuesday he was "humbled and honored" to be considered for the position. He said the consideration came as a surprise and he and his wife and they would have to discuss the matter.

"Together, we will prayerfully review this possibility in light of our family’s needs and whether or not this is the best way for us to contribute to making Virginia a better place to live going forward," Cuccinelli said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Republican leaders said Cuccinelli eventually determined the position was not right for him.

State Senator Ryan McDougle said McCullough would likely be appointed to the Virginia Supreme Court Thursday morning.

"There is unanimous support within the House Republican Caucus to elect Court of Appeals Judge Stephen R. McCullough to the Supreme Court. Judge McCullough has served Virginia with distinction for over 19 years," Virginia House of Delegates Speaker William J. Howell said in a statement. "He is an experienced appellate judge, who has previously been endorsed for the Supreme Court by every major bar association."

Protesters spoke out against Cuccinelli

Dozens of people filled the Capitol entrance on Bank Street Wednesday morning to protest the Cuccinelli nomination. Progress VA Executive Director Anna Scholl lead chants that called for legislators to vote against the Cuccinelli nomination.

"He’s manipulated the law to attack women's health and access to healthcare, to attack LGBT Virginians, and to attack the environment," Scholl said.

State Senator Glen Sturtevant, who backed Cuccinelli's nomination, called Cuccinelli "eminently qualified" for the job.