More money, more secrecy for the high court
That’s a spectacle North Carolinians will face, the Center for American Progress says in this piece, if the governor signs into law House Bill 652, which pushes much of the process of disciplining judges behind the curtains and allows the state’s Supreme Court justices to discipline themselves — also largely out of public view.
Standing alone, the bill is problematic for a number of reasons, articulated in recent weeks here and by attorneys and numerous newspaper editors across the state. But combined with provisions in the new state voting law eliminating public financing for judicial campaigns and increasing the amount of permissible campaign contributions, the bill is downright dangerous.
Writes the Center’s Billy Corriher:
The end result of these changes will be much more campaign cash from corporations and lawyers with an interest in the high court’s rulings, as well as more secretive independent spending in judicial races.. . . The increase in campaign cash will result in more questions about whether the justices should rule on cases involving campaign contributors.
The new judicial-ethics rules would mean that any resulting complaints will be handled by the justices themselves, and unless a majority of them decide to take action, the complaint and the proceedings will remain secret.
As North Carolina-born federal judge Algenon Marbley said late last year, when addressing voter ID challenges in Ohio: “Democracy dies in the dark.”