Raleigh, N.C. – In response to polling showing strong voter support for more frequent elections for judges by an almost 40 point margin, statements from Democrat legislators, and Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper’s recent flip-flop on merit selection and support for judicial elections, Senate Rules Chairman Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick) filed legislation Tuesday to give voters in the 2018 statewide primary election an opportunity to amend North Carolina’s Constitution to allow more frequent election of judges. House Rules Chairman David Lewis (R-Harnett) plans to introduce identical companion legislation through the House Rules Committee process, which would increase the state’s judiciary’s accountability to the citizens of North Carolina.
If the bill becomes law, voters will consider a constitutional amendment that would:
· Require more frequent elections of District Court judges every two years instead of every four years, beginning in 2018;
· Require more frequent elections of regular Superior Court judges, Court of Appeals judges and Supreme Court justices every two years instead of every eight years, beginning in 2018;
· Immediately give citizens the right to elect judges and justices of the District Court, Superior Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court to two-year terms in the 2018 general election; and
· Preserve the governor’s ability to fill vacancies on the Superior Court, Court of Appeals and Supreme Court through an appointment – without legislative confirmation – for the remainder of the current term of office.
“In the coming months, the Senate will carefully consider a number of options for reforming the way judges are selected in North Carolina including the House’s judicial redistricting bill, moving to some form of merit selection of judges, and retention elections for judges. After Gov. Cooper’s recent flip-flop from supporting merit selection to supporting judicial elections, I felt it was important that the discussion also include an option that allows our citizens to vote more frequently on judges,” said Rabon.
“The General Assembly is very serious about judicial reform. I hear concerns from my constituents all the time about judges legislating from the bench. Under this amendment, if a voter feels like a judge is acting like a legislator, they can vote to change their judge every two years just like they can vote to change their legislator every two years,” said Lewis.