The recent US Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson overturned Roe v. Wade, leaving the fate of abortion access up to the states. This decision has placed heightened importance on the role of the North Carolina Supreme Court and its ability to protect reproductive rights.
Republicans currently hold a majority in the North Carolina General Assembly. Under new voting maps, legislative Republicans are hoping to win enough seats to hold a veto-proof majority in order to advance their agenda. Republican leaders have already announced their intention to pass abortion restrictions in 2023. If Republicans succeed in gaining a veto-proof majority to pass abortion restrictions, the NC Supreme Court has the potential to act as a firewall to protect reproductive freedom.
Additionally, the NC Supreme Court has been embroiled in a decade-long battle over redistricting and has repeatedly ruled against gerrymandered maps, forcing the legislature to draw new ones that better reflect the people of North Carolina. Research shows that 72% of North Carolinians believe that state courts should be aggressive in limiting gerrymandering.
The state Supreme Court currently has a 4-3 majority in favor of Democrats. There are two seats up for election in November, and both are held by Democrats. Republicans are seeking to win at least one seat to regain control of the court. Two appeals court judges, Democratic Judge Lucy Inman and Republican Judge Richard Dietz are running for the open seat vacated by Democratic Justice Robin Hudson. Democratic Justice Sam J. Erin IV is running for re-election and will face Republican Trey Allen, a lawyer with no experience as a judge.
The NC Supreme Court has the ability to rule on issues that greatly affect North Carolinians, from protecting the right to vote to protecting reproductive freedom. Both issues will be top of mind for voters this fall.