Morgan announced this spring that he would step down from the state’s high court. Morgan said that he’d had encouragement from some in his party to run for governor, sparking speculation that Morgan could face Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein in the primary.
One of two registered Democrats on the state’s highest court, Morgan’s resignation from the bench came as he approached the state’s current mandatory retirement age of 72 for judges. He will be 69 years old on election day in 2024 and could only serve three years of an eight-year term.
Born in Cherry Point, Morgan’s family lived in Washington, D.C., and New Bern.
Morgan went to Duke University and graduated with honors from North Carolina Central University School of Law, where he served as the student body president during his final year of law school.
In 1994, Morgan was appointed as a Wake County District Court Judge by Gov. Jim Hunt. He was subsequently elected to the bench by voters of Wake County in 1996 and again in 2000. He was elected to the Superior Court in 2004 for an eight-year term and was re-elected to the post in 2012. In his first statewide quest for elective office, Morgan was elected in November 2016 to the NC Supreme Court. For that race, he had the endorsement of President Barack Obama.
After a break of more than four months, the high court resumes oral arguments on Tuesday. On Monday, Cooper announced his appointment of state Court of Appeals Judge Allison Riggs to fill Morgan’s vacancy. Riggs worked closely with Associate Justice Anita Earls for the left-of-center Southern Coalition for Social Justice as the co-executive director and chief counsel for voting rights. Morgan’s seat, now filled by Riggs, will be on the North Carolina ballot in the 2024 election.
In a press release distributed Tuesday afternoon, Morgan offered the following comments:
“As a devoted North Carolinian and a concerned Democrat, I am disappointed by the growing trend — even in my own political party — of a few folks in power trying to select the people’s leaders and determining our destinies,” Morgan said. “I am committed to challenging the status quo that allows a few at the top to choose the winners and losers among us. My vision is to provide all North Carolinians with fair opportunities in which they may thrive and succeed. I am running on a platform that calls for a change to the system that allows the working people, children, and families of North Carolina to be ignored and taken for granted.”
Morgan and his wife, Audrey, live in Raleigh. Between them, they have an adult daughter, an adult son, a daughter-in-law, and five grandchildren.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated at 2pm on Tuesday Sept. 12, 2023 to include Morgan’s press release comments.