The way judges wind up on the bench in North Carolina is changing this year. For one thing, elections will be partisan thanks to the passage of House Bill 100 last March. Governor Roy Cooper vetoed that bill, and the legislature easily overrode the veto the next day. Supporters contend partisan races give voters more information; opponents say they further politicize the court.
The GOP-dominated legislature is also redrawing judicial districts. The current districts have been in effect since 1955; that’s 62 years ago. Democrats accuse the Republican Party of racially gerrymandering those maps, as well. And Senate Bill 656, another bill vetoed by the Governor and promptly overridden, eliminates judicial primaries this year. However, a U.S. District Court Judge heard arguments Wednesday in Greensboro from Democrats who argued for the court to restore the May primary while their lawsuit over the issue goes to trial.
The General Assembly is now considering shifting from an election process to an appointment system. That’s just a smattering of issues to unpack here. To help us do that:
Stephen Meinhold, Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina Wilmington specializing in American Government, Public Law, and Judicial Politics. He also serves as the UNCW Faculty Senate President.