Our independent courts are under attack. Help fight back.

North Carolinians Want Fair Courts

Citizens Alert!

North Carolinians Deserve State Courts And Judges That Are Fair, Impartial, And Independent.

But that’s not what is happening!

Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul Newby and the Republican legislative leaders in Raleigh are conspiring to politicize our state courts, eliminate judicial independence, and turn judges into rubber stamps for their power grab. There has been a systemic, years-long campaign to diminish and ultimately end our state courts’ Constitutional role as a check on legislative power. We are now at a dangerous turning point that is putting our democracy and fundamental rights at risk. Here is what’s happening:

  • In 2017, after the Republican legislature overrode Gov. Cooper’s first veto, North Carolina became the first state in decades to force judges to declare a political party affiliation to seek election. Republican Paul Newby, then an Associate Justice, named himself the “quarterback” of recruiting judicial candidates to be part of his right-wing partisan “team” on the state Supreme Court.

  • Though now-Chief Justice Newby won his election in 2020 by just 401 votes – out of 5.4 million cast – he’s taken that razor-thin victory as a mandate to turn the state’s court system into one in which partisanship increasingly colors hiring, appointments, and judgment.

  • Newby fired the respected head of the Judicial Standards Commission, which reviews and investigates complaints of misconduct made against judges and justices. Now he is politically targeting judges at the behest of the court’s Republican majority.

  • Worse, GOP legislative leaders are proposing stacking the Judicial Standards Commission with political allies who can stifle dissent and target judges that don’t toe the line. And a proposal in the state budget (HB 259) aims to prevent people from challenging unjust laws by putting the legislature in charge of appointing the judges who handle cases brought against them. Additionally, they are proposing to end the option to appeal a dissent at the NC Court of Appeals, limiting access to justice.

  • After the GOP won a state Supreme Court majority in 2022, Newby’s “team” of justices has undermined democracy, civil rights, education, working people, and the environment at breathtaking speed [see below]. The court took the highly unusual step of revisiting decided cases, including reversing a ruling that limited gerrymandering. The court will allow the Republican-controlled legislature to redraw district boundaries for both Congress and the General Assembly to favor GOP candidates.

  • Supreme Court Justice Phil Berger Jr. has refused to recuse himself from cases involving his father, state Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger Sr., one of the state’s most powerful politicians. This includes cases challenging Berger Sr. ‘s gerrymandered hold on power.

This Is Wrong.

State Courts Are Crucial

State courts are often the final deciders on crucial issues that impact our everyday lives, such as voting rights, fair elections, public education, and civil liberties. And in an increasingly partisan world, our courts must be free of political pressure and party loyalty.

North Carolinians understand the power of the courts, especially when it comes to ensuring free and fair elections. That is why Fair Courts NC was established – for North Carolinians of all backgrounds to demand that our judicial system be free of politics and judges are able to rule impartially.

We Can Change This

With three simple reforms:

  • Do not force state judges to be partisan. Judges should be able to run for election as independent by lower ballot access thresholds or making judicial elections nonpartisan again.
  • Ban judges from partisan political activity  – like endorsing and fundraising for other candidates – when they are not on the ballot.
  • Establish clear ethics rules that would ban judges from hearing cases involving friends and family members.

Join the fight to keep our courts fair, impartial, and independent.