Judicial Elections

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.

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.

nccourts.org

The airwaves - and your mailbox - may be full of campaign messages for U.S. president or North Carolina governor, but further down the ballot you'll be expected to choose judges next month, too. 

Trouble is, you're not likely to find much if you search for information about those candidates online. They often don't have much money to spend campaigning, so even a Facebook page for the candidate can be hard to find.

"It's not easy!" admits Nancy Roberson, executive director of the Mecklenburg County Bar. "We had the same dilemma."

Judicial Elections Put Voters - And Judges - In A Bind

Apr 13, 2012

The upcoming primary election on May 8 features a number of congressional and county races getting attention, as well as a controversial amendment about marriage. But voters may find themselves befuddled by a few races further down the ballot: judges, for example. Judicial elections are non-partisan, which means voters can't pick the easy way out and vote straight Democrat or Republican. But judicial candidates are also limited in what they can say about how they would rule in cases - so that makes it hard for voters to choose. For a better understanding of how this process works, WFAE's Julie Rose is here with Morning Edition host Marshall Terry in the studio.