In December 2016 then-Governor Pat McCrory confirmed the legislature planned to pack the NC Supreme Court by claiming he worked to “deter efforts to expand” the court. Since December of 2016, Republicans have made several attempts at legislative selection of judges, culminating i…Read More
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.Read More
In this Real Facts NC Candidate Profile, we turn our attention to the North Carolina Supreme Court and Associate Justice Barbara Jackson. Jackson was elected to the NC Supreme Court in 2010 and is running for re-election this upcoming November. Before becoming an Associate Justice, Jackson was elected as a judge on the NC Court of Appeals and served for six years. Prior to her judgeship, Jackson practiced law for fourteen years, including time as General Counsel to Republican Cherie Berry in the NC Department of Labor and in the office of Republican Governor James G. Martin. Read the full profile of Jackson here.
“We are compelled to exercise judicial restraint and defer to the General Assembly's judgment.” – Jackson in Dickson v. Rucho, on the right of the General Assembly to keep secret its communications about the 2011 legislative maps that were later ruled unconstitutional.
In this installment of the Real Facts NC legislator profile series, we focus on Rep. Jon Hardister, a third-term Republican representing House District 59 in Guilford County. Hardister first ran for office in 2010, but lost to incumbent Rep. Pricey Harrison. He tried again in the newly created House District 59 in 2012 and was successful. Despite being elected thanks to 2011 districts later ruled unconstitutional gerrymanders, Hardister is a vocal proponent of independent redistricting. However, his voting record says otherwise with support of all Republican redistricting plans since his election.
Hardister rose quickly to power in the NC House and became Majority Whip in 2016. He is an Appropriations vice-chair and serves as chair of the Capital Appropriations committee, giving him significant influence over the state’s budget and the internal dealings that create it. Hardister’s priorities are clear. He helped write budgets that shortchange education and pushed for charter school expansion proven to take money away from NC school districts. Hardister favors deregulation for big business over protecting clean air and water for future North Carolinians. Read more on Hardister here.
“This was the right thing to do when Democrats were in power, and it is still the right thing to do today.” – Rep. Jon Hardister on nonpartisan redistricting (Greensboro News & Record, 3/1/15)
At the 2009 Republican Legislative Campaign Committee’s national meeting, Thomas Hofeller (yes, that name sounds familiar) presented the strategy Republicans would use to boost wins in 2010 and beyond, according to recently released court documents.
Hofeller’s June 2009 presentation, “2010 Redistricting: Preparing for Success,” explains why Republicans dominate the NCGA with a seemingly impenetrable super majority. The GOP’s strategy to “reinvent the gerrymander” was successful in North Carolina.
By December 2009 the presentation included the Republican State Leadership Committee’s plans to bankroll 2010 legislative races in North Carolina, $95,000 in the House and $234,000 in the Senate. Winning key races would allow RSLC to implement its REDMAP strategy across the U.S.
The REDMAP plan gives key insight into how Republicans have maintained control of the N.C. General Assembly. Art Pope put forth his own money for REDMAP, and RSLC sent $1.25 million to Pope’s network to elect Republicans in 2010. Pope spent around $2.2 million to accomplish that goal.Read More
Yesterday’s three-and-a-half hour meeting of the Joint Select Committee on Judicial Reform and Redistricting produced a new round of maps, a few heated exchanges, and no actual vote.
The meeting began innocuously enough; Brad Fowler from the Associated Office of the Courts (AOC) presented workload formulas for judicial officials, followed by almost two hours of questions from legislators.
Of course, the main event was yet to come: a battle over another set of new maps. New prosecutorial, district, and superior court divisions reading “Option A” were passed out during a short break about two hours into the meeting.
After introducing the new maps, Rep. Justin Burr (R-Stanly) fielded questions from incredulous Democratic legislators who attempted to pin down the exact criteria used to redraw the districts. Exchanges between Burr and Democratic legislators became more heated; Sens Blue and McKissick repeatedly asked if there was a guiding criteria or rationale for drawing these maps other than “just arbitrary.” Burr recited his mantra that he was attempting to correct population imbalances and that he had met with judicial officials who wanted a map that was more in line with their existing districts.
Sen. McKissick, however, continued to push. Asking for a document that summarizes data of criteria, Burr pointed him to the website. However, McKissick responded that no written document exists there.Read More
Southern Coalition for Social Justice released an analysis documenting some of the racial and partisan biases "infecting" the most recent judicial redistricting plan presented to the General Assembly in December 2017. Alison Riggs, SCJS's senior voting rights attorney described the key problem with the judicial districts, the "huge" variation in the number of residents per judge across the state.
"with a consistent pattern of too many people per judge in our urban areas will likely result in people of color disproportionately having less access to our justice system,” said Riggs.
Forest, during a Facebook Live he hosted on Wednesday, commended the “great job” the General Assembly has done drawing maps.
“The General Assembly has done a great job complying with the rules of the courts to draw these districts.”
Yesterday’s Senate Judiciary Committee meeting was not without drama.
After “technical difficulties” that delayed the meeting and eventually forced everyone to move to a new location, Sen. Bishop opened the meeting by stating that the Governor’s representative, retired Judge Don Stephens, would not be allowed to speak on proposed judicial redistricting.
Sen. Bishop (R-Mecklenburg) ruled that Don Stephens, a recently retired judge, was not an appropriate representative for Gov. Cooper because he was not employed by the Governor’s Office.
Sen. Chaudhuri (D-Wake) objected to this, saying that he was interested in hearing from Judge Stephens and that not doing so was a missed opportunity.
Sen. McKissick (D-Durham) had to ask multiple times for an opportunity to speak before Sen. Bishop would allow it. McKissick asked for a point of order to allow the members of the committee to vote on whether they would allow Stephens to speak, Bishop refused.
The three Democratic Senators present, Chaudhuri, Ford, and McKissick, walked out in protest of the obvious attempt to disallow input from a judge on the Republican judicial redistricting plans.Read More
The Senate Select Committee on Judicial Redistricting had its first meeting on November 8 – where they were given presentations by HB 717 sponsor Representative Justin Burr, Brad Fowler of the Administrative Office of the Courts, and Judges Joe Buckner, Brad Letts, Joe Crosswhite, Michael Crowell, and Gerry Cohen.
Republican Senator Dan Bishop asked Burr outright if his new maps were part of “some evil partisan plot” or an intentional “racial gerrymander” after extending his sympathies to Burr in hopes that his feelings have not been hurt by the negativity surrounding HB 717.Read More