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North Carolina Republicans Created A Playbook For Attacks On State Courts

According to Business Insider,  “North Carolina’s Legislature has been perhaps the prime breeding ground for partisan meddling and attacks on state courts.” Scorned by Democrat’s wins and subsequent control over the state supreme court, North Carolina Republicans have sought to erode the power of state courts through the “independent state legislature doctrine”

Republican litigators have applied this theory in court, arguing that only state legislatures have constitutional authority over election laws and redistricting, and have sought to strip the state supreme courts of the ability to rule on political maps. 

According to a 2021 poll, approximately 74% of North Carolina voters support efforts by the courts to ensure maps are fair and constitutional. In the same poll, 72% said that state courts should be aggressive in limiting gerrymandering. 

Billy Corriher, author of “Usurpers: How Voters Stopped the GOP Takeover of North Carolina’s Courts” said “There was an effort over five years where the Republican Legislature tried everything they could to take over the state courts, and they did that to protect their gerrymandered election districts.”

Since Republicans took control of the state legislature they have repeatedly injected politics into the judiciary. According to Business Insider, the Republican-led legislature redrew lower-court judicial elections districts to be more favorable to Republicans, made the Supreme Court elections partisan, and eliminated public financing for judicial elections. Republicans also canceled the 2018 judicial primary and attempted to give themselves the power to fill judicial vacancies. 

The tactics deployed by North Carolina Republicans to erode the power of state courts have spread to other states such as Winsconsin and Kansas where lawmakers are considering eliminating public financing and making judicial elections partisan. Corriher said, “North Carolina has created a playbook for a lot of Republican legislators and other states.”

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