A note from the editor:
When Carolina Journal Investigative Political Analyst Dallas Woodhouse pitched this groundbreaking story to me, and Carolina Journal publisher Amy Cooke, it frankly seemed unbelievable and unlikely. His scoop was that that the 4-3 Democratic majority on the state Supreme Court was considering forcibly removing two Republican colleagues, putting a thumb on the scale of justice over a case to overturn two state constitutional amendments, both of which were passed overwhelmingly by voters.
How could sitting members of the court, those who’ve committed their lives to the pursuit of truth and justice regardless of their personal politics, have become so swayed by political gamesmanship that they would risk the very institution that guides their lives? No way, we thought.
We checked his sources and examined his research. Internally, we debated all the “what ifs” and “how could it be”s. On Sept. 8, Carolina Journal’s The Woodshed published the breaking news that one state Supreme Court case could destroy the court for years to come.
“Democrats Anita Earls, Robin Hudson, and Mike Morgan would remove the GOP justices while potentially allowing Associate Justice Sam “Jimmy” Ervin IV to vote AGAINST the move,” the story read. “Hudson’s seat is also on the ballot, but she is expected to retire at the end of her current term. The same 3-2 vote would nullify the two constitutional amendments. Both of those amendments received more votes than any candidate on the ballot in 2018.”
One amendment hanging in the balance would require photo identification to vote and the other would lower the maximum state income rate. These amendments were passed by N.C. voters, not just their elected representatives. Millions of individual votes were at risk of being overturned by four people. I simply could not fathom the possibility that this was not a case of alarmism; it was a move never seen in the 200 years of the N.C. Supreme Court.
CJ’s reporting was confirmed when, 21 days later, the state Supreme Court ordered attorneys on both sides of the case in question, NAACP v Moore, to present arguments about the possibilities of forced recusals.
Since that first article, the court’s actions have gained national attention, criticized by The Wall Street Journal and Forbes, and viewed incredulously by constitutionalists, historians, justices, and journalists.
“If successful, this institutional mischief will reverberate far beyond North Carolina,” wrote The Wall Street Journal.
Carolina Journal has covered every twist and turn in the case, including one filed by our parent organization, the John Locke Foundation, that argues the voters’ decision to amend the constitution and elect the two GOP justices should be respected.
In the latest development, the court has received arguments from both parties on the recusal issue.
If you are just catching up on this real-life drama, we are launching “Extreme Injustice,” an in-depth multi-episode podcast. It’s hosted and reported by Dallas Woodhouse, with help from Senior Political Analyst Mitch Kokai, told in a way only these veteran storytellers can.
Tune in. Read up. Let us know what you think. This is your state, your court, and your decision.