ICYMI: GOP Assault on Judicial Branch Detailed

RALEIGH

Since gaining a majority, legislators have had more than a dozen unconstitutional laws overturned. In return, Republican legislators are now making brazen attempts to rig the judicial system to better favor them. 
 
A judge, a Vegas phone call and the NC GOP legislative effort to remake the judicial branch
By Anne Blythe
Raleigh News & Observer
August 22, 2017
 
“Doug McCullough was five months away from his deadline for mandatory retirement from the state Court of Appeals bench when the chairman of the state Republican Party gave him a call.
 
Democrat Roy Cooper would become governor in several weeks and Robin Hayes, the former U.S. congressman on the other end of the line, wanted McCullough to consider resigning early from his elected seat so Republican Pat McCrory could appoint a replacement in the waning days of his administration.
 
The Republicans not only had lost the governor’s office with Cooper’s victory. They also had lost a majority on the state Supreme Court in the November elections.
 
That phone call from North Carolina’s Republican Party chairman over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend last year illustrates how the political focus on North Carolina’s courts has sharpened in recent years and shows no signs of easing anytime soon….”
 
“…Since Republicans took control of the state House and Senate in 2011, and had four subsequent years with a Republican governor, key provisions of the state’s sharp political swing to the right have been challenged in state and federal court.
 
Legislative leaders have spent more than $13 million on outside attorneys to represent them in the cases, sometimes pairing them with lawyers from the state attorney general’s office.
 
Though the legislators have been upheld on at least three of the challenges, they have been overturned on many more, such as the maps drawn to elect state and federal lawmakers, an election-law overhaul that included a voter ID requirement and an attempt to change the way sitting Supreme Court justices run for re-election.
 
During this year’s regular legislative session, lawmakers focused more closely on the courts. They reduced the size of the appeals court by three seats with at least two Republicans close to retirement age and the Democratic governor in a position to appoint replacements. They decreased the number of emergency judges by nearly 70 percent and cut funding to legal aid organizations that help low-income people. They made a $10 million cut to the state attorney general’s office budget, forcing Democrat Josh Stein, the former state senator who was elected to the office in November, to cut 45 positions and lay off career attorneys. Republicans said the cuts allowed them to shift funding to the hiring of more assistant district attorneys across the state.
 
In late June, as that session was about to close, Rep. Justin Burr surprised many when he rolled out pictures of maps on Twitter that proposed vast change to districts used to elect judges and prosecutors.
 
The maps were not adopted, but the lawmakers left open the possibility for the issue to be reconsidered in August or September...”
 
Read the entire article here.