Editorial: Jeopardizing public trust in N.C. Courts impartiality
Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021 -- As Republican legislators now jockey for how legal challenges to their gerrymandering of elections districts are handled, it only shines a brighter light on their efforts to politicize the courts. To whatever degree Republicans may look to point fingers and complain about partisanship in our state's courts, they have only to look in the mirror.Posted — Updated
Newton, legislative leader Phil Berger’s lieutenant for gerrymandering matters, wasn’t happy early Monday when a three-judge North Carolina Court of Appeals panel ordered a temporary stop to candidate filings for congressional and legislative offices amid challenges to the maps drawn for election districts.
There is no difference between what the public knew about the way either of the two decisions was reached – other than one wasn’t to Newton’s liking while the other one lined up with his prejudice. Newton clearly didn’t feel that the earlier opinion reflected his GOP leanings.
We don’t know who, or the political affiliations of, the initial three judge panel.
But we do know that:
- It was lawyers for the Republican legislative leaders and the state GOP who appealed the 3-judge panel’s order to the full state Court of Appeals.
- Court of Appeals Chief Judge Donna Stroud is a Republican as is a majority of the judges on the state Court of Appeals. They were elected in partisan elections.
Since 2011 when Republican’s took control of the General Assembly they have worked to make state government and the courts more partisan – and bend rules in favor of the GOP and even look to draw judicial districts to favor Republican candidates for local judgeships.
While this may be politically expedient, it is a slippery slope to where those seeking a fair hearing in our courts will come to see them only as places where justice is determined more on political affiliation than an impartial application of the law.
As Republican legislators now jockey for how legal challenges to their gerrymandering of elections districts are handled, it only shines a brighter light on their efforts to politicize the courts.
To whatever degree Republicans may look to point fingers and complain about partisanship in our state’s courts, they have only to look in the mirror.
It was a mistake when they did away with the strong movement toward a non-partisan judiciary in North Carolina and their actions now only work to weaken the public’s trust that they’ll find justice in North Carolina’s courts.