Over the months ahead, it's almost certain that Duke Energy will find itself appealing to the North Carolina Supreme Court. There they'll find a friend they can count on, Justice Paul Newby, who is one of their wholly owned subsidiaries. It's a sick and sad affair that should be of grave concern to anyone in interested in justice. Facing South has the story.
The seven elections are in the appellate courts. Most significantly, four are on the seven-member N.C. Supreme Court, where registered Republican justices have long held a 4-3 majority.
With three of those four seats currently held by Democrats, the GOP momentum that has swept North Carolina over the past three years could increase the Republican majority if it continues. So far, Democrats haven’t yet come up with someone to run against Justice Mark Martin for the chief justice seat being vacated by Sarah Parker, who in August will reach the mandatory retirement age of 72.
Republicans are whining again that mean old Governor Perdue is planning an appointment to fill the recently vacated seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court ... gasp ... instead of handing the task over to His Magnificent Presence. She should move ahead with her plans no matter what.
Timmons-Goodson announced her resignation last week, and Perdue has expressed an intention to fill the seat before Republican Gov.-elect Pat McCrory takes office in January.
That would probably require Perdue to dispense with the 18-member commission for nominating judges. Perdue’s own executive order calls for the governor to choose from among three candidates nominated by that commission. People close to the nominating process say it would probably take longer than the four weeks remaining until McCrory’s inauguration.
The obvious choice is Sam Ervin, who would have won the election in November if Pope hadn't intervened. If Ervin isn't interested, an equally powerful choice would be North Carolina's progressive hero, Gene Nichol. In either case, we don't need a nominating committee or a long, drawn out process. We need an appointment, not a bunch of drama, and we need it now.
The election has led to the creation of an outside committee led by political and financial heavyweights backing Associate Justice Paul Newby. The group could raise enough money to exceed the roughly $625,000 the campaigns of Newby and challenger Sam Ervin IV had between them June 30.
It looks like this may be another case of not knowing where the money's coming from until it's too late. I've found no filings of this SuperPAC in either state or federal databases, but I could have missed it. This should give you an idea why the NC GOP and big business want to keep him warming that seat:
The rumor mill reports today that Bob Luddy and Tom Fetzer are planning to renew their lease on a North Carolina Supreme Court seat, throwing their corporate cash to incumbent Paul Newby to fend off Democratic challenger over Sam "Jimmy" Ervin. Judging from Art Pope's experience with former justice Bob Orr, Luddy and Fetzer have to think it's a good investment.
This latest Republican money-laundering scheme seems to have been kicked off a couple of weeks ago, with Amy Ballantine Ellis (Patrick Ballantine's sister?) as treasurer. The N&O is apparently working the story.
Womble Carlyle had this to say about the race in February.
Although the races are officially nonpartisan, the Supreme Court is currently comprised of 4 Republicans (Martin, Edmunds, Newby, and Jackson) and three Democrats (Chief Justice Parker, Timmons-Goodson, and Hudson). If Ervin were to defeat Newby, it would tilt the balance of the court to a majority of Democrats.
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