Jun 24 2011
Incoming president of the N.C. Bar Association, Martin Brinkley, shared with Citizen-Times that halting legislation intended to return NC to a partisan judicial election system is a priority for the NC Bar. In his interview, Brinkley said, “Being a judge shouldn’t have anything to do with politics…It ought to do with deciding cases on the law and the fact. We do not favor going back to the old system.”
The NC Bar’s position is in response to Senate Bill 47, which is expected to be introduced to the House during special session in mid-July. The bill has also raised concerns among voting rights advocates for its provisions limiting the period of early voting and repealing same-day voter registration. Another controversial provision of the bill outlines procedures for ballot positions ensuring that top spots go to Democrat and Republican backed candidates.
The debate surrounding SB47 highlights many of PMC’s concerns regarding judicial election. The NC Bar rejects the attempt to increase politicization of the judiciary; State Senator Tom Apodaca supports partisan races noting that “every party spends a ton of money” identifying candidates as Democrat or Republican; others decry ballot position gaming and increased obstacles to voting. While we agree that party identification, financial concerns, ballot position, and voter registration obstacles should not play any part in determining our judges, we also believe that merit selection is the better way to avoid these potential pitfalls inherent in judicial elections and achieve a fair, qualified and impartial judiciary.
Tags: Citizen-Times, elections, judicial elections, Martin Brinkley, North Carolina, Opinion, partisan elections, Tom Apodaca