Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, News

Guest columnist urges NC to stand with Forsyth judges in opposing judicial reform

A guest columnist in the Winston-Salem Journal last week encouraged North Carolina voters and their elected officials to stand together in opposing legislative attacks.

Linda Sutton was inspired by seeing five Forsyth County judges speak earlier this month at a “Fair Courts, Fair Votes” town hall in Winston-Salem.

The judges’ message was clear: our justice system exists so that everyone can rely on fair treatment from independent courts, but many in the legal community feel like that system is under attack.

[District Court] Judge [Gordon] Miller, a Republican and self-professed NRA member, told the packed room, “I’ve been practicing law for over 40 years … I don’t sit on the bench as a member of the NRA or a Republican, I sit there as a District Court judge … I disagree with the bills that have been proposed and I think they’re horrible ideas.”

Over the last few years, politicians in Raleigh have pushed an array of proposals to strip our courts of their independence by radically altering the way North Carolina chooses judges. They’ve made our judicial elections partisan, eliminated the 2018 judicial primary and floated plans to gerrymander the voting districts for our courts or eliminate judicial elections altogether.

Sutton said she was proud of the judges for standing together and speaking out, and said it was time for elected officials to follow their lead by passing a resolution to oppose legislative judicial attacks.

Several cities and counties across the state, including in conservative, rural areas, have passed resolutions opposing judicial reform. You can read more about that here and here.

Sutton wrote that passing such a resolution could “send a strong message to politicians in Raleigh that, like one Beaufort County commissioner put it, ‘you don’t know our county the way we do.'” She called on commissioners to act now. Read the full column here.

I’m calling on Forsyth County commissioners to act now. And I’m asking my fellow Forsyth County residents to ask them to do the same (we’ve made it easy to contact our commissioners about this issue at demnc.co/fairforsyth).

With only a few weeks until the N.C. legislature reconvenes to take up these changes, it’s time for Forsyth County to do what it can to fight back. This week our judges stood up for us. It’s time we did the same for them and the people that they serve.

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