Primer on the NC GOP's war on the court system


A systematic and sustained effort to subvert the judiciary:

Number of actions they've taken in recent years to change the makeup and independence of state, district and local courts: at least 12

Date on which the N.C. legislature sustained a bill eliminating judicial primary elections that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper had vetoed: 10/16/2017

Days later that they introduced a bill to wipe out the terms of all state judges, from the N.C. Supreme Court to the district courts, at the close of 2018 and require them to run again: 1

Hat-tip to the Institute for Southern Studies for compiling this list. Every single one of those Legislative Republicans who are licensed attorneys should be disbarred for these attacks, or at least formally (and loudly) censured by the NC Bar Association. Follow the link to see the true depth of the GOP's meddling, but here's another taste:

Spending on ads last year for a single N.C. Supreme Court race, which was technically nonpartisan but which the Democrat won, shifting the court's partisan balance: $2.8 million

Weeks after that election that the N.C. legislature required state Supreme Court candidates to run in partisan judicial elections, which create barriers for unaffiliated candidates and which a 2012 study found are connected to greater political spending: 5

Months after that move the legislature extended the partisan election requirement to North Carolina's superior and district court judges: 3

Year in which a state last moved to partisan elections for judges: 1921

At one time I actually thought this was a good idea, and had a fairly spirited debate with my friend Doug Clark over it, because I thought voters needed whatever information they could get to figure out how a judge might rule. But in reality, the only thing that should guide them is justice. Has guilt been proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Does the punishment fit the crime? Has the defendant received the same level of treatment as others in the same situation? Frankly, our court system has often failed on some or all of those issues, and making it more political will only intensify those problems.