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Nathan Deal Judicial Center dedicated to former governor
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Former Gov. Nathan Deal gets a standing ovation Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, as he prepares to speak during the dedication of the new Nathan Deal Judicial Center in Atlanta. - photo by Scott Rogers

Standing before the judicial center to bear his name, former Gov. Nathan Deal said the institution will serve as a “prime example of our belief in the rule of law.”

“It is the rule of law that holds our nation together. It is, indeed, what holds our state together through difficult times,” Deal said. “And even though we have had tough times in our state, and I’m sure we will have others in the future, it is that rule of law and appreciation and reverence for it that keeps us as a free people in a republic,”

The Nathan Deal Judicial Center is a six-story, 215,000-square-foot building housing the Supreme Court of Georgia, the Court of Appeals and the Business Court. The Capitol Avenue building is on six acres and is expected to last a century.

The Supreme Court and Court of Appeals made the move in December into the new facility.

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Christopher McFadden thanked the staffs of the courts and the Georgia Building Authority “for the hard and skillful work that made possible this swift, well-organized and minimally disruptive move.”

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delivers the dedication address Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, during the building dedication of the new Nathan Deal Judicial Center in Atlanta. - photo by Scott Rogers

The judicial center is Georgia’s first building dedicated solely for the judiciary.

Speaker of the House David Ralston and others introduced a resolution in November 2018 to name the building in Deal’s honor. It was signed May 7 of last year by Gov. Brian Kemp.

“His work fundamentally changed the way we view nonviolent offenders, winning support from both sides of the aisle, and it set a standard across our country,” Kemp said.

The judicial center and courthouses alike across the state are representations of the values we hold as a people, Deal said.

“This building, hopefully, will be regarded as a symbol that Georgia is a state that believes in part of its motto being justice. This is a facility in which the people of this state and their legal representatives will come seeking justice,” Deal said.

U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, the dedication’s keynote speaker, said the building’s beauty “is only exceeded by its necessity and its importance.”

“It embodies the ideals of our courts as well as Gov. Deal’s deeply personal commitment to criminal justice reform and to this great state,” Thomas said.

Judges, Thomas said, must “be disciplined and on guard to ensure that we do not overstep our bounds” to reach a certain outcome.

“Each time a judge sidesteps or manipulates the law to achieve his or her desired outcome, the rule of law suffers and is undermined and eventually compromised,” he said.