N.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice

Mike Morgan

Here is how desperate North Carolina Republicans are to preserve their razor-thin conservative majority on the Supreme Court (which is nonpartisan in name only): last year, lawmakers passed a cockamamie law allowing Justice Robert Edmunds to run in a “retention” electiona yes/no referendum, rather than facing an actual opponent. If the noes prevailed, the governor, a Republican, would appoint his replacement. Neat trick.

That law was struck down by a panel of Superior Court judges. The N.C. Supreme Court, with Edmunds abstaining, deadlocked, so the real election was back on.

Edmunds has plenty of experience. He’s been an appellate judge or justice for eighteen years, and he’s a thoughtful, if stoutly conservative, jurist who stresses judicial independence. Under different circumstances, we would be inclined to support him, even though, because of age limits, he would be forced to retire about halfway through his eight-year term. But given the legislature’s willingness to bend the constitution in service of ideological schemesand given the Supreme Court’s recent history as a partisan institution, which has been evident on questions of gerrymandering, school vouchers, and the aforementioned retention electionNorth Carolina can’t afford to write Republican lawmakers a blank check. And that’s exactly what preserving the status quo court would do.

We’re endorsing Mike Morgan, who for the last two decades has served on district and superior courts and is highly rated by the state bar. He’s known as a dedicated public servant and would be a welcome addition to the Supreme Court.