The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has cancelled North Carolina’s judicial primaries. Again.
A three-judge panel ordered that the state’s primary elections for appellate judicial seats should remain cancelled after U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles reinstated them as part of a preliminary injunction.
The decision was not unanimous. Judge Stephanie Thacker, a Barack Obama nominee, and Paul Niemeyer, a George H.W. Bush nominee, agreed to stay the preliminary injunction. Judge Diana Motz, a Bill Clinton nominee, would not have granted the stay.
The North Carolina Democratic Party sued lawmakers and the state for eliminating judicial primaries this year alleging the measure infringed upon their First and 14th Amendment rights to Freedom of Association, or the rights of groups to take collective action to pursue the interests of its members.
Attorneys representing the legislature and the state argued, among other things, that the initial decision to cancel primaries this year was made because they could be rendered moot if judicial redistricting or merit selection passes both chambers.
It should be noted that neither such judicial reform proposals have come to fruition at the legislature yet.
John Wallace, an attorney who represents the Democratic Party, said Friday afternoon that they were considering available options after the 4th Circuit’s ruling. They could request the U.S. Supreme Court make a final decision in the case.
Candidate filing for the appellate judicial primaries that Eagles reinstated was set to begin Monday. Now, barring any further action by the courts, the judicial candidate filing period will run from June 18-29, according to the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.