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NC Speaker says constitutional amendment puts NC in line with other states

Rashaan Ayesh
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

There must be a shift in the universe if all of the living former North Carolina governors, both Democratic and Republican, come together to take a stand against the actions of the General Assembly.

What exactly is that cosmic force? A constitutional amendment that would take away the governor’s sole power to appoint judges during vacancies, and hand it over to the General Assembly.

Democrats have decried the proposal as a seismic power shift, and a three-panel judge three-judge panel recently told the legislature (which is controlled by Republicans) to rewrite the amendment language.

In the proposed amendment, the role of the commission would be to make sure the candidates are qualified to fill judicial vacancies, as prescribed by the law, without regard to their party affiliation. The commission’s evaluation would then be sent to the General Assembly, who will choose at least two candidates for the governor to choose from.

"The nominating commission is only tasked with determining if the applicants meet the legal qualifications to be a judge, which is different than how nominating commissions are used in other states," said Douglas Keith, counsel in the Democracy program for the New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice.

Stephen Ware, a law professor at the University of Kansas, says that, based on the description in the ballot, the merit commission would play a less powerful role than in other states if its objective is to check "legal requirements as opposed to assessing the pros and cons of applicants and making the hard choices of who would be better."

In fact, most merit commissions are tasked with "narrowing down a pool of applicants to a few finalists" for the governor or legislature to select from says Ware.

Faculty name: 
Stephen Ware