Stop the Next Attack on Our Democracy, Fight for Fair Courts
We were victorious in pushing back attacks on our courts during the N.C. General Assembly’s 2018 special session, but the 2018 short session promises more proposals to rig the system from political bullies working for their own partisan interests. The current focus is on gerrymandering our judicial voting districts (House Bill 717), slashing judicial terms (Senate Bill 698), take power to fill judicial vacancies from Governor’s office (House Bill 240 and House Bill 241), and seizing the ability to choose judges themselves (legislative appointment under the so-called “purple plan”) — all of which would undermine the independence of our courts and make North Carolina’s judiciary more partisan. Others say “court-packing” is back on the table, a scenario where lawmakers add judges to our N.C. Supreme Court in an effort to get better outcomes.
On top of that, legislative leaders may also resurrect part of North Carolina’s discriminatory 2013 Monster Voting Law. That law was rejected in federal court, but the NCGA could revive voter ID by placing it on the November ballot as a constitutional amendment. That’s right: the same lawmakers who drafted an illegal voter ID law that targeted African-Americans “with almost surgical precision” now want to permanently add it to our state’s constitution.
Together we have put intense pressure on lawmakers to end these schemes — and it’s working. But we can’t stop now. Join our “Fair Courts, Fair Votes Month of Action” (May 18-June 18) to fight back! Keep up the pressure with this 1st STEP OF 6.
North Carolina’s District and Superior Court Judges are elected by voters in judicial districts. A plan to redraw these districts (House Bill 717), sponsored by bail bondsman Rep. Justin Burr, who was just defeated in the recent primary election and will not return in January 2019, can be taken up at any time during the current 2018 short session.
HB717 is being roundly criticized by judges, the legal community, and the public as part of a broader attack on the courts in 2017*. In December, Republican Senate leaders proposed their own plan to redraw judicial districts, which is also being criticized both for how it was introduced and what it does.
Right now, the legislature is back in session and is taking your input on these and other bold legislative changes to how judges are selected. It’s time to make our voices heard!
STEP ONE: Understand and Talk About Rigging The Courts
Tell Them: “House and Senate Judicial Plans Represent More Sham Redistricting.”
- This judicial redistricting process fails to engage key stakeholders – judges, the legal community, and the public – in developing these new maps.GOP operatives have admitted new district lines were designed to elect more Republican judges. They were drawn to make it harder for Black and women judges to win re-election.
- If lawmakers sincerely believe changes are needed, there’s a positive way to move forward: the N.C. Courts Commission recommended a judicial redistricting study (House Bill 124); it has bipartisan support, but did not advance in the N.C. General Assembly.
Tell Them: “Judicial Districts That Target Black Judges and Black Voters Are Racist.”
Lawmakers need to learn from the court decisions striking down racially-biased maps for legislators.
- Some of the racially biased districts in the illegal legislative maps reappear in the Senate’s judicial maps, particularly in urban counties like Cumberland, Guilford, and Forsyth.
- The proposed changes will overburden the court system in Black communities by reducing the number of judges elected from urban centers and rural areas with a significant number of African-American residents.
Tell Them: Judicial Attacks A re Another Effort to Rig the System for Partisan Control.
Politicians in Raleigh fear the power of an independent judiciary to strike down their unconstitutional laws, so now they’re trying to change the judges to cement their control.
- The new districts are designed to make it easier for Republican judges to win elections.
- The legislature’s partisan plans threaten the independence of our courts and compromise voters’ ability to elect judges that will fairly and impartially preside over cases.
*Lawmakers have already passed legislation (Senate Bill 656) that canceled 2018 primary elections for judges and they have proposed bills to cut judicial terms of duly-elected officials to two years (Senate Bill 698) and eliminate judicial elections altogether (a so-called “purple plan), allowing lawmakers to appoint their friends as judges; they call it “merit selection,” but it’s just crony politics.