It has been a while since I wrote about the political wrangling between North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and the state legislature over the selection of state judges. But a lot has been going on.
Some background: North Carolina primarily elects its judges, with the governor filling vacancies on an interim basis as they occur. But there seems to be a general consensus that the current process is not functioning well. Contested (now partisan) elections, political gamesmanship with respect to filling judicial vacancies, and outworn judicial districts all have contributed to the malaise. The issue has become a flashpoint in recent months, in part because of a widely publicized tug-of-war between the state’s courts and its Republican legislature. The court system has struck down many significant pieces of legislation in recent months, leading to loud complaints from legislators.
In the last several weeks, under the guise of judicial reform, the state legislature has passed two bills that would radically remake the state’s judicial selection process–and with it, the state’s judiciary.