Morgan proud of High Court win

Associate Justice-elect Mike Morgan

Morgan proud of High Court win
November 17
10:00 2016



If there was one undisputed Democratic winner from North Carolina’s Nov. 8 general election, it was Wake Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan, who republican Associate N.C. Supreme court Justice Robert Edmunds, 54 percent to 45.6 percent.

“I feel tremendously wonderful about it,” the new justice-elect, 60, said Sunday morning during an exclusive phone interview with The Chronicle. “The voters of North Carolina have given me a resounding victory and are allowing me to serve the state at the highest level of the North Carolina Supreme Court. So I’m very pleased, very proud and very humbled at this opportunity.”

Compared to many other marquee race results on the ballot election night, “resounding” is certainly an appropriate description of Justice-elect Morgan’s victory.

According to final unofficial numbers in the Morgan-Edmunds race, the Democrat won with 2,134,015 votes statewide, bolstered by 1,383,585 One Stop early votes between Oct. 20-27, and 676,836 ballots on Election Day, as well as a number of mail-in absentee ballots and provisional votes.

Justice Edmunds was over 300,000 votes short across all categories.

Some observers have been particularly curious about how, and why Morgan was able to do so well against Edmunds, while every Democratic appellate court candidate, even the incumbents, fell to a Republican opponent.

Unlike the Court of Appeals races, the N.C. Supreme Court race was not partisan labeled on the ballot, so neither Judge Morgan or Justice Edmunds were identified with their respective parties under their names. Some observers believe this was key because, in order to gain partisan advantage, GOP lawmakers determined that Republican candidates would be listed first in each partisan contest.

With straight ticket balloting eliminated, all Republicans had to do was simply vote for the first name in every category on the ballot.  But for some reason, Judge Morgan’s name, not Justice Edmunds’, was listed first in the non-partisan Supreme Court race, which may have caused some confusion with Republican voters not familiar with either candidate, resulting in the over 300,000-vote win for Morgan, some analysts, who called it “a mistake,” believe.

Justice-elect Morgan disagrees, calling that “ just speculation.”  Morgan noted that he ran on his almost 30 years in the judiciary serving at every level, including as a trial judge, something Justice Edmunds couldn’t claim. Morgan campaigned “vigorously” in every part of the state and established “personal contact with the voters.”

Morgan also credits his campaign team for great organizing and establishing a good, “strong” social media presence.

“I had a message that was embraced by the voters, and that is that the state Supreme Court needs to be fair, impartial, above reproach, and clear of any politics. So to speculate and say that the lack of designation of Democrat and Republican, is not only sheer speculation, but also sour grapes.”

Justice Edmunds also found himself targeted by an outside progressive special interest group in a campaign television commercial called “the snake ad,” for writing the lead opinion upholding the Republican-led state legislature’s 2011 redistricting map that was later ruled unconstitutional by a panel of three-federal District Court judges last August for creating congressional voting districts by race.

Edmunds wrote that overturned 4-3 opinion, but maintained that the campaign ad suggesting that he was somehow racist because he did, was unfair.

In the aftermath of Justice-elect Morgan’s election victory came reports that Republican legislative leadership, in a move to counter a Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, is considering off-setting what would be a 4-3 Democrat majority on the state Supreme Court with Morgan’s addition, by appointing two additional, presumably Republican associate justices during the special session Gov. McCrory is planning to call for Hurricane Matthew dis-aster relief.

The state constitution allows for a total of nine justices to serve, which includes the chief justice.

The Charlotte Observer called the alleged Republican plot “blatantly offensive.” Many activists, including N.C. NAACP President Rev. William Barber, are blasting the idea as a “power grab.”

“This is wrong because it is a form of partisan scheming designed to go around the people, and a vote of the people,” Rev. Barber says. “This also violates the fundamental concept of separation of powers when a partisan-elected governor and legislature seeks to stack the judicial body, a totally separate part of government, for partisan control.   We will fight and stand against this immoral and unconstitutional power grab as should all North Carolinians.”

Justice-elect Morgan also wasn’t pleased.

“The concern is, in light of the fact that the voters have stated by their votes Tuesday that they reject the politicization of our North Carolina Supreme Court, [they] do not want the justices to have any political leanings, and the voters want to make sure that our highest court is perceived as being fair and impartial in every decision,” Morgan said. “I cannot comment on the pending or impending actions of the legislature, but I will say it causes me some concern in light of the most recent election results.”

When told that many in North Carolina’s African-American community are proud of his election to the state’s High Court, Justice-elect Morgan said he was proud to be the first African-American to be elected to the state Supreme Court without first being appointed by a governor. Morgan added that he is now the only African-American male on the High Court (Associate Justice Cheri Beasley is currently the only black female on the court).

Justice-elect Morgan added that his election now means, not only for African-Americans, but for all citizens of North Carolina “the strengthening of the [state Supreme Court] through diversity.”

Justice-elect Mike Morgan will be sworn into office in January 2017.

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Cash Michaels

Cash Michaels

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