The General Assembly Republican’s have instituted many appalling laws as of late. However, I find none as frightening as the attack that they have levied at our independent judiciary.
For those that have not been keeping up with their last shenanigans, the Republicans first decided to move our judicial elections from non-partisan to partisan. NC is now the first state in nearly 100 years to move from nonpartisan to partisan elections for judges. We are going in a wrong direction here. Judges should be chosen on the way they have ruled, not what party they are members of. Our nation’s founders were clear that they wanted an independent judiciary. Hamilton wrote explicitly about it in the Federalist Papers. Making these elections partisan is removing a barrier to be less independent. These judges will now have to go along with the party or risk being primaried.
Next, the Republicans are trying to gerrymander our judicial districts. Gerrymandering means that you draw the district lines in such a way that it dilutes the opposition vote, thus making your parties vote appear to have more power than it really does. The Republicans are very open about their goals in this respect. They want to be able to control the judiciary so that all their policies that have been overturned due to being unconstitutional, will now get through.
That brings us to the next frightening proposal the Republican’s have made – they want judge races to be held every two years. This move will have to be decided on by the state’s residents in May if the Republicans do move forward on the idea. NO OTHER STATE HAS 2 YEAR TERMS FOR THEIR JUDICIARY. If passed, this will serve their interest in two ways. First, because they are gerrymandering our judicial districts, they can have full control by 2018. Secondly, it will cause the judges to require more money to get elected. That makes them need a favorable view from their party a whole lot more.
The final attack they are making against our judiciary is they are removing the primaries for the judge’s races. This will mean that whatever party serves up the least amount of candidates will likely get the seat. Primaries serve an important function in our democracy. They allow the people to choose who best fits their party. I already don’t like the fact that we have partisan elections for our judges in the first place. However, if the Republicans insist on this, then we need to ensure that we have the most qualified candidate representing our party.
In the Federalist Papers # 78, Hamilton warned us when the judiciary aligns with the legislative or executive branches. He said, “It equally proves, that though individual oppression may now and then proceed from the courts of justice, the general liberty of the people can never be endangered from that quarter; I mean so long as the judiciary remains truly distinct from both the legislature and the Executive. For I agree, that “there is no liberty, if the power of judging be not separated from the legislative and executive powers.” In other words, the power of the court is limited and we can remain a free people as long as the judiciary remains independent.
I promise that if elected, I will fight to keep our judiciary truly independent.