Candidate filings begin but court battles confuse

Candidate filings begin but court battles confuse
February 15
09:31 2018

From now until noon Feb. 28, candidates for all state offices, except judgeships, will be filing for the 2018 May 8 midterm primaries. Filing began Monday without a hitch, though at the end of last week, observers were concerned that another unexpected court order could possibly delay the process.

Indeed, on Friday, Feb. 9, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued an order that candidates for the N.C. Supreme Court and state Court of Appeals could not file for the May 8 judicial primaries because they will not be held. Instead, those candidates will file during a special judicial filing period June 18-29.

That order stayed an original ruling by a federal judge, who ordered primaries for state Supreme and appellate court candidates, but not for district and superior court candidates.

The Republican-led N.C. legislature last year passed a law eliminating the 2018 judicial primaries for all judicial candidates because of judicial redistricting, but Democrats successfully challenged that law. The federal judge reinstated the judicial primaries for the state judicial races, but not for district and superior court races. Now, that’s to the Fourth Circuit appellate court, there will be no May judicial primaries, and the special June filing period will go forward, unless a court stops that as well.

The legal back-and-forth have state Republican legislative leaders seeing red.

Thus far a three-judge federal panel has had Republican 2011 legislative redistricting maps redrawn twice, finally ruling that the maps drawn by a court-ordered special master be used for the 2018 elections. Republicans successfully petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, in part, to stay that order for Wake and Mecklenburg counties alone, pending review.

Republicans also were successful in getting an order by another three-judge panel striking down their 2016 partisan congressional maps, stayed by the U.S. high court.  That stay is pending review of two other partisan gerrymandering cases the U.S. Supreme Court is considering elsewhere in the nation.

And just this week, a three-judge state panel refused to take up the issue of Wake and Mecklenburg counties being blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court in the legislative redistricting case involving the special master. The judicial panel cited, “… significant practical difficulties, if not jurisdictional impediments, exist when one court is called upon to construe and enforce another court’s order that was made upon a distinct and separate record by distinct and separate plaintiffs.”

Rep. David Lewis (R-Harnett), co-chair of the Joint Redistricting Committee, held an angry press conference last Friday, demanding that Democrats drop their court cases, and simply allow Republicans, who are in the legislative majority, to carry out the will of their supporters.

“These Democratic groups lose in state court, they run to federal court. When they lose in federal court, they run back to state court. It is judge shopping, pure and simple,” a livid Rep. Lewis told reporters. “They are trying to ignore a Supreme Court decision that came out less 24 hours ago!

“They want to confuse voters, cause chaos in election administration,” Lewis continued, “… and bully the General Assembly into surrendering to their political aims.”

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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