The North Carolina Bar Association has condemned an ad that attacks state Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson in her re-election campaign. The 30-second spot claims Hudson “sided with child molesters” in a case that involved GPS tracking devices. WFAE’s Duncan McFadyen looks at that ad and the group behind it.
The ad refers to a case in which three convicted sex offenders sued the state over a requirement that they wear satellite tracking bracelets. The legislature passed the law in 2006, after their convictions. The offenders claimed the bracelets amounted to an additional punishment, and thus, a violation of both the U.S. and North Carolina constitutions.
The court ruled against the sex offenders, 4-3. One of the dissenting justices was Robin Hudson. In her dissenting opinion, Hudson says the bracelets shouldn’t apply to people convicted and sentenced before the law had passed. So, the group Justice For All NC, says in its ad:
“Justice Robin Hudson…not tough on child molesters; not fair to victims.”
“That’s totally false," Hudson says. "Two of us in the 3-member dissenting minority are mothers – the only two mothers on the court. I have a daughter and a granddaughter, and the idea that I would quote ‘side with a child molester’ is preposterous.”
Hudson's campaign launched an ad Tuesday that responds to the claim.
Justice for All NC paid for its ad with the help of a $650,000 contribution received April 23, 2014 from the Republican State Leadership Committee. The ad started running in ten markets statewide April 25th.
According to opensecrets.org, the Republican State Leadership Committee’s top donor this year is Blue Cross Blue Shield, at nearly $1 million. Reynolds American is second with just under $800,000, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce 3rd with a contribution of nearly $500,000.
We couldn’t get a hold of anyone with Justice for All NC. Its address is a mailbox in a UPS store in a Raleigh strip mall.
In a statement, the North Carolina Bar Association says the Justice for All NC ad and others like it are an unfair attack on the legal profession. And, the group’s president-elect Catharine Arrowood says the ads could be problematic for elected judges who are perceived to benefit from them should, say, Blue Cross Blue Shield or Reynolds American be involved in a case in their court.
“If those out-of-state interests come before our courts at a later time," she says, "it is going to give the impression --- whether it is right or wrong --- that somehow those interests are going to get special treatment.”
The ad attacking Hudson was produced by a Mississippi company, Innovative Advertising. The company also produced an ad two years ago that attacked Supreme Court Candidate Sam Ervin IV. It’s also produced attack ads against a judicial candidate in Mississippi. Innovative Advertising has also produced ads for North Carolina Senate President Phil Berger and Congressman Robert Pittenger.
Elections for the North Carolina Supreme Court are non-partisan. Hudson, a Democrat, has two Republican opponents, Eric Levinson and Jeannette Doran, in next week’s primary. The top two vote getters will be on the ballot in November.