North Carolina, since colonial days, has always distrusted judges. That expression can be seen in the constitutional history of our Great State. Many efforts have been made over more than two hundred years to have judges appointed by the Establishment. The people have voted this idea down every time it has ever been submitted to them. They stand firm on popular election of judges.
But there have and are forces at work still to try change that. Most of the energy and money for these efforts comes from…you guessed it…the lawyers and particularly the trial lawyers. There is a current movement to adopt the "Missouri Plan" whereby judges are initially appointed and then after several years stand for an "up or out" election. Of course the idea is that without opposition and being "down ballot" the incumbents will always get re-elected.
And then there is the history of the "straight party ballots" in North Carolina. That is another gimmick the Establishment has used to not only secure life tenure for judges but to allow the Democrat party to insure that all judges are Democrats.
But that is changing. North Carolina is moving toward a "two-party" state. And the internet has resulted in people have more information about judicial candidates than when the Elite Media could control the show.
For many years you did not have to be a lawyer to be elected as a judge. We trusted the People to decide who was best qualified. But the lawyers got that changed to require a law degree to run for a judgship. That narrow the pool considerably and makes it much easier to control who files to run, particularly if those people have to appear before the incumbent judge next Monday in court.
The system is rigged, for sure.
Brant Clifton, writing in The Daily Haymaker takes a look at some of the recent development in judicial elections:
For decades upon decades, all was well in The Tar Heel State as judges were elected with the blessing of the state's leftist-dominated bar association and their mainstream media lapdogs.
Lawyers were able to pool their money and control who gets the judicial — and attorney general — slots in state government.
In the 80s, Republicans came on like gangbusters in North Carolina. In 1988, the GOP got a governor and lieutenant governor elected. In 1994, the party took over the state House, made great gains in the state Senate, and won several council of state and judicial seats. That year, judges who ran with a (D) next to their name were voted out in favor of candidates with an (R) next to their name. It became clear that Republican judicial candidates won because of the party's reputation as being tougher on crime.
Well, Democrats in the legislature decided to fix this problem when they regained a majority in the late 90s. Judicial candidates would — from then on — appear on the ballot without party identification. A great method for protecting Democrat jurists.
Fast forward to 2012. The Democrats realize that the state Supreme Court will be key in deciding whether the 2010 legislative and congressional redistricting plan will stand. Conservative justice Paul Newby is the only member of the court on the ballot this year. Democrat-aligned lawyer groups, flush with cash, have put forth Judge Sam Ervin IV (grandson of the beloved late US senator) as a challenger to Newby.
That was okey-dokey fine UNTIL reports of one of those *dreaded* Super PACs announcing its support for Justice Paul Newby surfaced in the media. Super PACs came into being as a result of the Supreme Court's Citizens United case — which basically ended the unions' and trial lawyers' dominance of the world of campaign finance.