Raleigh – Yesterday, the North Carolina Democratic Party filed for an injunction to prevent the elimination of primaries in the 2018 judicial elections and to protect the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of North Carolina citizens to cast a ballot for their preferred judicial primary candidate.
The injunction was filed in the United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina against Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, House Speaker Tim Moore, the North Carolina Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement (SBOE), and SBOE Executive Director Kimberly Strach. A copy of the complaint can be found here; the motion for preliminary injunction here; and the memo in support of the motion here.
“Speaker Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Berger’s cynical move to eliminate judicial primaries deprives the people of North Carolina of their most fundamental right – the right to vote,” NCDP Chairman Wayne Goodwin said. “Legislative Republicans are rigging the system, not creating a better system of selecting judges. North Carolinians have a right to make an informed decision about who they want as their judicial nominee. This move unjustly eliminates that right and should be immediately struck down.”
In addition to canceling an election, the move would cause unnecessary and harmful confusion at the ballot box. In 2014, after an appellate judge unexpectedly retired too late in the election process for a primary election, 19 people ran for his open seat. The winner received less than 24 percent of the vote in an election the N.C. Bar Association called “very bad news for the voters.”
“Legislative Republicans have yet to offer any compelling reason for eliminating judicial primaries other than their own desire to bend our court system to their will,” Chairman Goodwin continued. “The result will be unnecessary chaos and confusion at the ballot box. The courts should strike down this unconstitutional political move and ensure that North Carolina voters get to cast a vote for the judge of their choice in the primary.”