Orr, member of the state's highest court since 1995, said he plans to leave his job this summer to become executive director of the newly formed North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law.
The Republican served on the state Court of Appeals before joining the Supreme Court. He practiced law in Asheville for 11 years before his election.
"During his tenure as Associate Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, Judge Orr has distinguished himself as a scholar and independent thinker, who is respected on both sides of the political aisle," Gov. Mike Easley said Thursday. "Judge Orr's legacy is one of dedicated service, and we are grateful for his tireless work on behalf of the citizens of our state."
Orr said he announced his resignation early to give those interested in running for the seat time to run a campaign.
A replacement will be named to fill Orr's seat. His successor will be elected in November.
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