Recent Republican Court Losses Provide Explanation For Republican Court Power Grab

WUNC recently highlighted the number of court defeats the Republican led General Assembly has seen since taking power in 2011. Since taking office, WUNC found that 14 laws were “either overturned altogether or had key provisions struck down.”

It comes as no surprise, then, given their stunning record of defeat that Republicans have been attempting to seize power and rig the courts in their favor. Just this session alone, Republicans have:

  1. Shifted elections for District Court and Superior Court to partisan races [News And Observer, 3/22/17]

  2. Reduced the number of judges on the Court of Appeals from 15 to 12, an attempt to take away appointment power from Governor Cooper [Facing South, 3/10/17]

  3. Passed bill to take away Governor Cooper’s power to appoint District and Superior Court judges [WFAE, 3/10/17]

  4. Passed bill to take away judicial appointment power from Governor Cooper [NC Policy Watch, 4/25/17]

“Efforts by North Carolina Republicans to rig the courts are blatant attempts to seize power and manipulate vital institutions in their favor. Since 2011 when Republicans took control of the General Assembly, the courts have served as one of the most crucial checks on the harmful and unconstitutional laws they have tried to pass. Voters can see right through their actions and will not forget,” said NCDPExecutive Director Kimberly Reynolds.

Background On Republican Court Losses

Fourth Circuit Court Of Appeal Struck Down Republican Voter ID Law. “Three courts on Friday struck down parts of controversial voter ID requirements put in place by Republicans, with one of those courts citing “clear discriminatory intent” by lawmakers in North Carolina to shrink the franchise for politically powerful US minorities. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees North Carolina, found that a 2013 voter ID law targeted Democrat-leaning black and younger voters with “almost surgical precision,” in part by taking away an early voting day, Sunday, used by black churches to shuttle parishioners to the polls.” [Christian Science Monitor, 7/30/16]

State Supreme Court Struck Down Law Combining State Board Of Elections And Ethics Commission. “North Carolina once again has a separate State Board of Elections and Ethics Commission, thanks to a Supreme Court order issued Monday afternoon. That order is the latest in a chain of events that has injected uncertainty into how the state’s elections and ethics laws are managed. That ruling is a win, albeit a temporary one, for Gov. Roy Cooper in his ongoing conflict with legislators over a batch of laws passed in December that dilute his powers.” [WRAL, 2/13/17]

Federal Judge Ruled Against Senator Wade’s Attempt To Change Greensboro City Council Elections. “The city of Greensboro’s system of electing city council members will remain unchanged with a federal judge’s ruling today that an effort by state Sen. Trudy Wade to upend the system violates the Constitutional requirement that the votes o