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Federal judge dismisses lawsuit over judicial primaries; ruling expected in favor of lawmakers

A federal judge intends to rule in favor of the lawmakers who eliminated judicial primary elections and will dismiss the case brought by the North Carolina Democratic Party.

An order with U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles’ findings won’t be released until next week, so it’s not clear why she made the decision.

The text order that was posted online this morning states: “In view of the opening of the filing period, the Court advises the parties that it will rule for the defendants and will dismiss the case with prejudice. An order with findings of fact and conclusions of law will be entered early next week.”

Judicial candidate filing began Monday — 124 people filed with the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. More on that will be posted later this morning.

Lawmakers eliminated judicial primary elections this year so that they could explore judicial redistricting and reform. They ultimately only redistricted Wake, Mecklenburg, New Hanover and Pender counties, but Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed that bill Friday and there has yet to be an override vote.

The North Carolina Democratic Party sued lawmakers and the state over the decision to eliminate judicial primaries, alleging their First Amendment constitutional association rights were violated.

Eagles ruled in the Party’s favor early on in a preliminary injunction hearing and ordered that the primaries be reinstated, but the 4th Circuit later reversed that decision. The trial took place almost two weeks ago.

John Wallace, one of the attorneys for the Democratic Party, and GOP legislative leaders could not immediately be reached for comment.

This is a breaking news story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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