Yesterday, Anne Blythe at the News & Observer reported on arguments at the North Carolina Supreme Court in Faires v. State Board of Elections. The case brings into question whether it is constitutional for the General Assembly to institute “retention elections” for Supreme Court justices without amending the state Constitution. Blythe noted in her piece that the case has brought together an interesting coalition — the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina (ACLU-NC) and the Civitas Institute Center for Law and Freedom (CLF). Via the News & Observer:
Not only did the case see Robert Edmunds, a justice whose term ends this year, recuse himself from the discussion and decision, it also brought together two organizations that are often at odds politically.
The ACLU of North Carolina and the Civitas Institute Center for Law and Freedom filed so-called “friend of the court” briefs in support of Sabra Faires, a Raleigh attorney who challenged the law and is now seeking a seat on the court, and two others.
At issue is whether legislators overstepped their authority when they adopted a law that would have allowed incumbent justices seeking re-election to run for reappointment on their records in a retention election, with no challengers.
Only if voters did not support keeping the justice in office would other candidates be permitted to file for the seat.
Faires and others challenging the law have argued that such a change can’t be made without a statewide referendum on whether to change the N.C. Constitution.
In the friend-of-the-court brief filed by the left-leaning ACLU and the right-leaning Civitas Institute, the organizations argued that moving from multi-candidate elections to up-or-down elections for a sitting justice required a state Constitution amendment.