Supreme Court justice candidates debate on Capital Tonight

A screen grab of the Capital Tonight debate between state Supreme Court candidates

North Carolina’s three state Supreme Court candidates appeared Thursday on Spectrum News’ Capital Tonight for a short debate.

Republican Justice Barbara Jackson is running as the incumbent against fellow Republican Chris Anglin and Democrat Anita Earls.

The GOP changed the law recently to make all judicial races partisan, then they litigated after Anglin changed his voter registration from Democratic to Republican. Anglin won the court battle and now all three are on the ballot.

Each candidate was give one minute to respond to questions from the host of the show, Tim Boyum. They were also given a minute each to make closing arguments.

There were several interesting tidbits in the debate and the candidates rarely aligned in their answers. Earls told Boyum she supported partisan elections, while Anglin and Jackson said they did not.

When Boyum asked each candidate to pick a case the Supreme Court got wrong in its decision, Jackson did not. She said that choosing one would overlook the process of decision-making in the many, many other cases the court takes on. Anglin said he believed the state Supreme Court made a mistake in failing to correct racial gerrymandering. Earls said she would have joined the dissent on the decision to uphold the school voucher program.

In closing, they each highlighted what they would stand for if elected to the bench. Jackson reminded voters that she was the most experienced and the only one of them that had judicial experience. Anglin said he would be fair and open-minded and not let his personal beliefs get in the way of making decisions. Earls told voters she had a proven record of impartiality and would focus on equal access to justice and giving a voice to those without.

Watch the full debate here. The three candidates are also expected to debate in a forum next week in downtown Raleigh that is hosted by the Federalist Society.

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