The conservative powers that be in state government continue to deny there’s anything to the Supreme Court packing story…for now anyway. Common sense and a skepticism built on years of witnessing ends-justify-the-means right-wing governance in action, however, tell us to be wary of the tight-lipped denials.
And much to their credit, major news outlets and opinion leaders around the state are prospectively condemning the scheme. Yesterday, it was the Wilmington Star News that weighed in with a fine lead editorial:
“Now, in North Carolina, Democratic judges rarely turn wacky; in most other states, they’d be regarded as Republicans. Still, that’s too much for some members of the GOP.
Word is, they plan to push through a bill, HB-2 style, to expand North Carolina’s Supreme Court from seven justices to nine. Gov. McCrory would then appoint two new justices — good Republicans, we are guessing — to fill the seats until the next election. That would flip the high court back to Republican control by a 5-4 vote margin.
This is the sort of raw, brass-knuckles partisanship that Republicans used to denounce when Democrats ran the show in Raleigh. Now, the GOP has proved it is no better, and, in many cases, worse.”
And here’s the on-the-money conclusion:
“Now, there is no particular need for two extra justices on the Supreme Court. The caseload is actually smaller than it was a decade ago (730 filings in 2014 versus 785 in 2007). And justices don’t come cheap: The annual salary for an associate justice in North Carolina is $140,285, not counting such amenities as offices, computers and so forth.
This legislature decided that the state’s schools had too many teachers’ aides because paying them costs too much money. Apparently, though, we can always find cash for some extra Republican judges.
Legal observers have been warning about the amount of money being pumped into state judicial races across the country; big-money interests are trying to cherry-pick their judges to ensure a friendly panel when they land in court.
In North Carolina, though, when the people make the mistake of voting for a Democrat, the Republicans — with their veto-proof majorities and tailor-made districts — simply legislate around them. One almost wonders why we bother with the charade of an election at all.
To paraphrase that great Republican, Ronald Reagan, this is no way to run a railroad — or a court system.”
Click here to read the entire editorial.