Democrat-turned-Republican Chris Anglin won his court fight to run on the GOP ticket for Supreme Court justice in the Nov. 6 general election.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Becky Holt issued her ruling Monday, Aug. 13, after a hearing on constitutional claims Anglin made in a lawsuit against Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, the N.C. Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, and Kim Strach, the board’s executive director.
Berger and Moore’s offices hinted at a possible appeal of the ruling.
“Their actions have shown exactly why I’m running,” Anglin said Monday after winning the case. “They want to make the judiciary an extension of the legislature.”
Anglin sued Aug. 6 to block Senate Bill 3. It became law Aug. 4 over Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. It stripped his partisan affiliation from the ballot. Republicans said the new law was simply intended to make judicial races consistent with other electoral contests prohibiting candidates from switching parties within 90 days of the filing period.
Anglin claimed in his lawsuit the Republican-led General Assembly violated rights enshrined in a provision added to the state Constitution in 1776. He said the new law overturns a provision in the state Constitution’s “Declaration of Rights” protecting against encroachment by state officials and shifting political majorities. He said it was unfair for his opponents to be listed by party designation while denying him that opportunity.
Holt issued a temporary and permanent injunction the same day Anglin filed suit to block printing of election ballots.
“Today’s misguided ruling protects Democrats’ deliberate effort to split the vote by confusing voters about a candidate’s true affiliation, despite the state legislature’s longstanding authority to set party label rules for candidates and efforts to conform judicial races with every other public office statewide,” said Moore spokesman Joseph Kyzer.
“Lawmakers are reviewing their legal options,” he said.
“Republican or Democrat, ‘candidates’ shouldn’t be able to switch parties at the last minute to split the vote,” Berger spokesman Bill D’Elia said in a written response to the decision.
“It’s a dirty trick that both sides of the aisle have rightfully condemned. We’re reviewing our legal options as we consider next steps,” D’Elia said.
Republicans contend Anglin was a Democratic plant. They say his last-minute voter registration conversion was part of an effort to dilute the votes for Republican Party-endorsed incumbent Justice Barbara Jackson in her re-election fight against Democrat Anita Earls. Anglin has denied the claims.
Anglin had said he would withdraw from the race if his party affiliation was stripped from the ballot. He filed a conditional withdrawal notice with the N.C. Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement on Aug. 8.
But over the weekend he sent an email soliciting financial support for his legal fight.
“When I filed to run for Supreme Court, I said I was running to stand up for an Independent Judiciary, and as a Republican to be a voice for disaffected Republicans who believe in the checks and balances of our democracy and that the North Carolina General Assembly has left them behind,” Anglin wrote. “I also ran to make the point that partisan judicial elections are a mistake.”
He said lawsuits take resources, solicited contributions, and encouraged email recipients to forward his plea.
“No matter the outcome of the suit, our campaign has been a success,” Anglin wrote. “We have exposed the folly of partisan judicial elections, and the Legislature’s contempt for the checks and balances of our democracy. However, I’ve just begun to fight.”