Commentary

The best editorial of the weekend

If you get a chance, be sure to check out the Saturday editorial in the Greensboro News & Record entitled “A judicious veto.” In it, the N&R rightfully praises Roy Cooper’s first veto as Governor (this one of legislation seeking to make District and Superior Court elections partisan).

“Gov. Roy Cooper delivered a well-aimed veto Thursday.

‘We need less politics in the courtroom, not more,’ he said in rejecting House Bill 100, which would require partisan elections for District and Superior Court judges. He added that, under the bill, ‘judges who have chosen to register as unaffiliated voters so as to avoid partisan politics now have a difficult path to getting on the ballot.’

Cooper should keep his veto stamp handy because several more efforts to politicize the courts are likely to reach his desk. The Republican legislature keeps trying to weaken the governor and make the courts more partisan.

Bills have recently passed the House to transfer the power to fill judicial vacancies from the governor to lawmakers and to reduce the N.C. Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12. None of these measures was recommended by the judicial branch.”

After detailing the problems with the other bills targeting the judiciary that the General Assembly is advancing, the editorial concludes this way:

“Over the past 15 years or so, North Carolina had moved away from partisan judicial elections. Now the legislature is working to restore party labels at all levels of the courts. Not only does that invite more politics into the courts, it puts truly nonpartisan candidates at a disadvantage. It makes no sense to discourage men and women who don’t want to be partisan politicians from serving in our courts.

The legislature has the power to make these changes, and override Cooper’s vetoes, but this is not how anyone should promote court reform. Where is the objective analysis of how courts can work more effectively, serve the public more fairly and see that justice is done more impartially?

None of these proposed changes seems designed to accomplish those objectives. On the contrary, they look more like maneuvers intended to give the legislature and political parties more power.

The judicial branch of government should be the least political. Cooper should veto every bill that threatens the integrity of the courts.”

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