Courts & the Law, Defending Democracy, News

Retired Judge Don Stephens speaking out against amendments in more ways than one

Retired Judge Don Stephens will be silenced no more.

The former Superior Court judge of 33 years currently appears in a TV ad opposing two “power grab” amendments as part of the Stop Deceptive Amendments campaign and he penned a column over the weekend about his participation.

“It was easy to say yes, because as a trial judge on the Superior Court for 33 years it was my job to call it like it is,” he wrote for the Citizen Times. “To be fiercely independent, apart from partisan politics, an umpire to call the balls and strikes when politicians step over the line.”

He goes on: “It is the judge who tells the governor or the legislature when they have over-reached or over-stepped their authority or when they have violated the Constitution.

That is exactly what has happened with these two amendments that give the legislature the power to fill judicial vacancies and the Board of Ethics and Elections.”

Stephens has been speaking out against lawmakers’ efforts to reform the judiciary since he retired last year. He even tried to talk to lawmakers directly at the end of last year about their plans but they didn’t listen.

Now he’s taken his show on the road to talk to North Carolina voters directly about the constitutional amendments lawmakers are using to reform the judiciary.

“Because these amendments corrupt the integrity of the judiciary and violate the equal balance of power in our democracy, these amendments are opposed by every past governor and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, both Democrats and Republicans. Governors Jim Hunt, Jim Martin, Mike Easley, Bev Perdue, Pat McCrory and Roy Cooper have put partisan politics aside and stand united against this power grab by the state legislature,” he wrote in the Citizen-Times piece. “I implore you to join them and vote against these destructive amendments.”

Read the full Citizen-Times piece here. See Stephens’ TV ad below.

One Comment


  1. Terry McNeese

    October 14, 2018 at 9:31 am

    I see only one amendment on my ballot in Johnston County. I guess my question is, how can taking the power to appoint judges out of one persons’ hands (Governor) and putting it in the hands of a bipartisan committee be a bad thing? Sounds like the Democrats are thinking in the here and now because we have a Democrat as Governor. Does a negative vote on this come back to haunt them when a Republican Governor is elected? Are they going to try to pass a similar amendment when that happens? By the way, the amendment is only for vacancies; if the choice is not good, the judge will be voted out in the next cycle.

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