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Republican’s evolving efforts to politicize the courts

Republicans have released various (and often conflicting) plans for reforming the judiciary. The House has passed a court stacking gerrymander that would flip courts to majority Republican – similar to their unconstitutional gerrymandering of their own districts.

Senate leaders have dangled a vague proposal that will give the legislature “a key role in appointments” of judges in an attempt to convince members of the legal community that this could be a form of their long-sought selection method of judicial appointment.

Alternatively, the Senate last week introduced a proposal that would invalidate the terms of duly elected judges and put all 403 judges and justices on the ballot in 2018 after a constitutional amendment during the primary election.  In a TV interview, Senate President Pro Tem Berger’s chief advisor claimed that this is not a bargaining tool to garner support for an appointment process.

The details of Berger’s chosen method of selection have remained vague. In a statement to the News & Observer, he said that the process would be similar to the process that Cooper “once championed.”

Similarly, during his appearance on Capital Tonight, Blaine offered no details about the process of merit selection. When asked about the possibility of a legislature-controlled committee he accused Democrats of spreading false information.

I heard various Democrats say that's what the Republicans want to do but I certainly have not seen the Republicans put that out,” he said. “I think the rhetoric is outrunning the reality here.”

Blaine’s response was reminiscent of Sen. Berger’s denials last December of rumors of a Republican plan to add members to the NC Supreme Court before Republican Gov. Pat McCrory left office – a plan that McCrory himself later confirmed.