Courts & the Law, News

Justice-elect Mike Morgan weighs in on Supreme Court win; rumors of court-packing

morganIt’s been a little over two weeks since Justice-elect Mike Morgan won a place on the bench at the North Carolina Supreme Court, and he’s still just as excited as he was on election night.

“It was an exhilarating and satisfying victory,” Morgan said during a phone interview Tuesday evening. “The voters gave us such a resounding victory.”

Morgan, an African-American Democrat who currently serves as a Superior Court judge, received 2,150,512 votes in the general election, and his opponent, incumbent Justice Bob Edwards, a Republican, received 1,797,698.

There’s been some speculation that the 54.45 percent win came because Morgan’s name was above Edwards’ on the ballot, a placement held by Republican candidates in other judicial races on the rest of the ballot. The high court candidates also were not identified by their parties on the ballot because the race was non-partisan (though support for each campaign was partisan).

But Morgan has a different theory: His easy win was a result of a combination of things: credentials, experience, his abilities and the skillset he would bring to the bench; and most importantly, his message about being fair and impartial no matter what politics are at play.

He said his win also speaks to the ability to achieve when one works hard, citing his own journey through the judicial ranks. And finally, he added, his win is “a statement to the strength of diversity in our state.”

“I’m so grateful to the people of the great state of North Carolina for the opportunity to serve at the highest level,” he said.

The state Supreme Court will flip to a 4-3 Democratic majority once Morgan is seated. He weighed in Tuesday on rumors that the Republian-led legislature could vote to add two associated justices to the court in a scheme to try to win back a Republican majority.

“I’m concerned about it in that it would appear to be contrary to the voters’ position and it’s statement in my victory, in that the two seats would be created expressly for an outgoing Republican governor,” Morgan said.

Though he knows nothing more than what he has read in the media, Morgan said court packing during a special session to address hurricane relief funds causes a great number of questions, especially considering the court has had the same configuration of justices for decades.

“It appears to be a response to the voter’s choice of me,” he added.

Morgan was hesitant to comment further. He did say that he was looking forward to his term serving the people and the court, and that his plan was to do what he’s done all along in his career:

“Work diligently, study assiduously and be the best justice I can be in reviewing the law, applying the law to the facts and being fair and impartial in my decisions,” he said.

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