Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott of Pike ville said Monday that he would step down from that position effective midnight Friday.
Scott, 67, wouldn't say why he was resigning, but the Herald-Leader reported in November that he was considering a run for governor in 2015.
Scott, a Republican, told the newspaper then that he would decide by early January whether to run for governor. The filing deadline is Jan. 27.
In a written statement, Scott said, "Serving on Kentucky's highest court has been a great honor, but the job restrains members from being involved in finding solutions to problems facing Kentucky and our people."
In the statement, Scott said he was "just gonna walk down the road a little bit and try to find a higher hill to fight from — for Kentucky."
Two Republicans already have said they will run for governor — state Agriculture Commissioner James Comer of Tompkinsville and Louisville businessman Hal Heiner.
Scott told the Herald-Leader in November that he had had "informal discussions" with potential running mates and that whoever might be his running mate for lieutenant governor would be a "major factor" in his decision.
Scott's successor on the court will be chosen by Gov. Steve Beshear from three names to be presented to him by a nominating commission. The successor will fill the office until an election.
The Kentucky Constitution says that the seven-member court may operate with only six justices. In case of a 3-3 vote, the ruling from an appellate court stands.
Scott was elected to the Supreme Court from the 7th District in 2004. He was deputy chief justice from 2006 to 2010.
In his statement, Scott said he "will miss my colleagues on the court — they're such wonderful people — but hopefully, I'll be able to stay close to them."
He was a circuit judge from 1984 to 1988. Before that, he practiced law as a trial attorney from 1975 to 1980 and was an assistant commonwealth's attorney for Pike County from 1981 to 1982.
From 1988 to 2004 he practiced law in Pikeville. During that time, he made unsuccessful runs for Congress and state attorney general.
A native of Pike County, Scott attended Eastern Kentucky University for a year before volunteering for the Army in 1966. He was a first lieutenant in Vietnam.
After his military service, Scott earned a bachelor's degree from Pikeville College and a law degree from the University of Miami in Florida.
Attorney General Jack Conway of Louisville, a Democrat, also has entered the gubernatorial race, as has Democrat Geoff Young of Lexington, who lost a bid in this year's Democratic primary for the 6th Congressional District seat.