Commentary, Defending Democracy

Veteran journalist: GOP plan “the worst proposal yet for our courts”

It’s a high bar to scale, but veteran Greensboro News & Record columnist Doug Clark couldn’t be more right in his assessment of yesterday’s bizarre NC GOP proposal to amend the constitution so that every judge in the state must stand for election every two years.

Here’s the conclusion to the column Clark posted yesterday:

It would be a free-for-all. The entire [supreme] court could be overturned, and with multiple candidates for every seat, winners could be declared with far less than a majority vote.

Want to turn our state’s highest court into a total joke? You couldn’t find a better way to do it.

But that would just be for starters.

The title of this bill, ‘Increase Voter Accountability of Judges,’ is offensive.

Judges aren’t supposed to be ‘accountable’ to voters.

They’re supposed to be accountable to the constitutions of the United States and the state of North Carolina, and to the laws.

They aren’t politicians who should carry out the will of the people. They aren’t supposed to make decisions based on what’s popular but according to what is right, just and lawful.

The Founding Fathers decided that judges should be given lifetime terms to insulate them from the politics, or passions, of the day.

In North Carolina, judges at the Superior Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court have eight-year terms because the authors of our constitution were wise enough to provide a long period of protection from elective politics.

Two-year terms would destroy the integrity of our courts.

Our legislature has taken enough steps already to compromise the integrity of our judicial system. This would be the most egregious violation yet.

It must not advance.”

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