A bad idea (electing judges) gets worse in NC

The popular election of judges has always been a terrible idea. But now, thanks to Citizens United, it’s worse:

The North Carolina Judicial Coalition is a new tax-exempt organization, known as a super PAC, supported by wealthy conservative Republicans who are determined to make this year’s race for a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court ideological and expensive.

This kind of influence in judicial elections is a direct result of the Citizens United decision, which allows corporations and unions to make unlimited so-called independent expenditures in campaigns. In adissent in that case, Justice John Paul Stevens predicted that such spending would overwhelm state court races, which would be especially harmful since judges must not only be independent but be seen to be independent as well. North Carolina is proving him right…

The North Carolina Judicial Coalition was set up to re-elect state Justice Paul Newby, who has opposed adoptions by same-sex couples and disallowed a lawsuit challenging alleged predatory lending. He gives conservatives a 4-to-3 advantage over liberals on the State Supreme Court and is being challenged by the more liberal state appellate judge, Sam Ervin IV, a grandson of the senator and son of a federal appeals judge…

Go read the whole editorial. Yep, it was always a bad idea — nothing like picking justices on the basis of Kulturkampf issues — but now it’s expensive, too.

7 thoughts on “A bad idea (electing judges) gets worse in NC

  1. tavis micklash


    I totally agree with you on the danger of unfettered spending and detest the Citizens United decision. I understand why the ruling happened. That doesn’t change the fact that we have set up a pay for play system that undermines the power of all but the super rich, be them Dems or Republicans.

    What can be done though? I’m not preaching helplessness here. Is this something that legislation could fix or would it require a constitutional amendment?

  2. Ralph Hightower

    Judges should not be for hire! Justice should serve as a balance with the executive and legislative branches.

  3. `Kathryn Braun

    Isn’t NC the state that just outlawed actually scientific climate change research? So much for the Outer Banks…

  4. Kathleen

    It has always puzzled me that those who rail so loudly against activist judges seem to expend so much effort seeing that activist judges make it to the bench. Perhaps activism, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

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