News: CJ Exclusives

Supreme Court candidate Anglin gets court order and may get GOP label back

State Supreme Court candidate Chris Anglin got a temporary restraining order Monday afternoon in Wake County Superior Court, potentially restoring his Republican Party label for the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

Anglin sued earlier that day to block Senate Bill 3, which became law Saturday, Aug. 4, over Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto. It stripped his partisan affiliation from the ballot. 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” that protects against encroachment by state officials and shifting political majorities. He sought a temporary and permanent injunction.

“Although I’m grateful Judge [Becky] Holt granted our request for a temporary restraining order, I’m not surprised. What the legislature has done is a violation of my constitutional rights, and frankly un-American. Even children understand changing the rules in the middle of an election is wrong,” Anglin said in a written release after being notified of the TRO.

Holt scheduled a full hearing Monday, Aug. 13.

He said removing the party label deprived him of the same rights exercised by his election opponents — GOP incumbent Justice Barbara Jackson and Democratic challenger Anita Earls — and violated the Declaration of Rights’ guarantee that elections shall be free from interference or intimidation.

Defendants are Senate leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham; House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland; the state of North Carolina; the N.C. Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement; and Kimberly Strach, the elections board’s executive director.

“I didn’t make, break, or change the rules, just followed them,” Anglin said in a Sunday news release.

“The leadership of the General Assembly has been relentless in its attack on our independent judiciary in trying to rig this election. All the while the incumbent has remained silent while they took steps to aid her,” Anglin said. “We are asking for a hearing as soon as possible. Justice delayed is justice denied.”

Republicans contend Anglin is a Democratic operative who switched parties at the 11th hour. His intent was to split the Republican vote between Jackson and him, Republicans claimed. Earls, the only Democrat, would benefit.

“Candidates for office shouldn’t be permitted to switch party affiliation at the last possible minute. The most obvious reason for doing so is to split the vote from one party to benefit the other party, and that type of shenanigans — from Democrats or Republicans — has no place in our state,” Berger spokesman Bill D’Elia said in a response to Anglin’s lawsuit.

“Since the governor’s veto to protect political gamesmanship by party-switching candidates was unsuccessful, we expected these individuals to follow Cooper’s lead into the court system to continue trying to mislead voters, and nefariously sway the outcome of key elections,” Moore spokesman Joseph Kyzer said in a written statement.

Kyzer also noted that Anglin’s attorney, John Burns, is a Democratic Wake County commissioner.

Anglin’s suit contends Republicans called a special session two weeks ago to target his candidacy by initially passing S.B. 3. Cooper then vetoed the bill.

Anglin said he submitted his paperwork to run on the last day of the filing period properly, but S.B. 3 retroactively changed the law after he filed as a Republican. It bars candidates who switch parties less than 90 days before the filing period. S.B. 3 violates his rights and denies due process, he claimed.

Republicans defended the change, saying all other elected offices have 90-day requirements, and that the legislation affects three District Court candidates. Two Democrats switched to Republican, and one Democrat changed to unaffiliated.

Anglin noted in his lawsuit voters already had been informed of his candidacy as a Republican.

Buncombe and other counties, along with the state elections board, have listed Anglin as Republican on official notices complying with the Federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act. Those notices go to military personnel and other out-of-country U.S. citizens who wish to cast ballots by mail.