Judicial Elections

Wikimedia Commons

Candidate filing begins Monday for this year’s judicial elections in North Carolina. The filing period comes in the wake of a series of political and court battles over how judges should be elected in the state.  

Wikimedia Commons/ W Edward Callis III

North Carolina's primaries are just seven weeks away, but it's still not clear if they'll include votes for local judges. A three-judge panel at the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, heard arguments Tuesday over whether those primaries can go forward this year.

North Carolina General Assembly

Democrats at the state legislature in Raleigh walked out of a committee meeting Wednesday that was looking at potential changes to judicial election districts and judge selection. The walkout happened after the Republican committee leader, Sen. Dan Bishop of Mecklenburg County, would not allow testimony from a retired judge that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper sent to speak on his behalf.

Brennan Center For Justice

America's judicial system has been the target of a number of political attacks this year.

And not just from President Donald Trump questioning the legitimacy of some, quote "so-called" judges or saying he wants to break up the Federal appeals court which struck down his travel ban.

A new report by the left leaning Brennan Center for Justice finds Republican controlled legislatures across the country are targeting state courts and remaking them for potential political gain. They have tracked at least 41 such bills in 15 states and that's just since January 1 of this year.

NCGA

The North Carolina House passed a bill Wednesday that would make District and Superior Court races partisan. In other words, judicial candidates would have their party affiliation appear on the ballot.

The vote was unusual, 65 to 51, with Democrats and Republicans voting for and against the measure.

Proponents argue that listing a party affiliation next to a judicial candidate’s name on the ballot provides voters with needed information.

WFAE

Since 2002 all judicial elections in North Carolina have been considered non-partisan races. Which means the candidates party affiliation does not appear on the ballot.

Over the last few months the General Assembly has been changing that. And Monday, a bill which would finalize the process was passed by a committee in the State House.

scales of justice
Scott*/Flickr

On June 7, North Carolina holds a special primary. And nearly all the focus of that primary has been on those running for the U.S. House. But there is another race on that ballot, the only one that is a state wide contest. At stake is control of the North Carolina Supreme Court.

Tom Bullock/WFAE News

In seven weeks, North Carolinians will go to the polls for the state  primary elections.  This means candidates for all kinds of offices are out wooing voters and raising money. For those trying to become elected judges - the process is a bit strange.  And even the candidates worry it may hurt the credibility of the state’s highest courts. 


There is an ongoing debate about how we seat judges in North Carolina. On one side are supporters of partisan judicial elections, on the other the appointment of judges by the sitting Governor. Other scenarios have been introduced as well. Last year Governor Perdue issued an executive order creating an 18 member committee to select a slate of judges for the Governor to choose from. One of Governor McCrory's first acts was to repeal that order. We'll look at how we choose judges in our state and some of the most popular suggestions for reform, when Charlotte Talks.

The Government Reorganization and Efficiency Act - which has passed the North Carolina senate and will now be considered by the House – has gotten a lot of attention because it would allow Republican leaders to remake a number of powerful commissions and regulatory bodies.  But the Act would also eliminate 12 Special Superior Court Judge positions – which got us wondering what a special superior court judge is.  So, we asked WFAE's Julie Rose to find out.

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