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Sen. Newton admits Republicans have a “drive” towards state judicial selection

During a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting Thursday, Sen. Newton admitted Republicans constitutional amendment on judicial vacancies is a first step in a drive towards judicial selection process: 

“We are trying to drive our state toward a merit based judicial selection process.” – Sen. Newton

The comment came in a discussion about S814, which would give the General Assembly some control over judicial appointments, a power now solely held by the Governor.

Newton was responding to a question from Sen. Horner regarding the discrepancy between instituting partisan judicial races and this bill, which would install an allegedly “nonpartisan” method for appointing judges. Newton said he understood voters wanted more say through judicial elections moments before saying this was part of a drive to judicial selection: 

While merit selection is a popular idea, this particular proposal gives the legislature wide latitude to change the specifics later, “allowing the Republican-controlled body to dominate if it chooses,” according to WRAL.

This confirms rumors last year that the General Assembly and Senate leadership in particular wanted the power to appoint judges.

S814 is the newest bill in a long line of changes to the judiciary proposed by the Republican Party. 

After efforts for statewide judicial redistricting failed the General Assembly settled for redistricting specific counties.

  • S757 will redistrict Superior and District Court districts in Wake, Mecklenburg, New Hanover, and Pender Counties.
  • If H1037 passes, it would redistrict prosecutorial, Superior Court, and District Court districts in Duplin, Jones, Sampson, Onslow, Hoke, Moore, Montgomery, and Stanly Counties.

Under S814, if the Governor fails to appoint an approved judge in ten days, that power would be given to the General Assembly. Could this newest power grab be a stepping stone along the way to the GA having sole control over judicial appointments?