During the last election campaign, a constant theme of newspapers and political commentators was that voters needed to elect Democratic justices to defend abortion rights.

Who says?

In State v Slagle, 82 NC 653 and 83 NC 630 (1880), the North Carolina Supreme Court found that abortion was a common-law crime from conception. The judges and their party affiliation were as follows.

Chief Justice William Nathan Harrell Smith — Democrat

Associates: Thomas Samuel Ashe — Democrat

John Henry Dillard — Democrat

In Stam v State, 302 NC 357 (1981), the North Carolina Supreme Court decided that county funding of abortions was not authorized by statute. The justices and their party affiliations were as follows.

Chief Justice Joseph Branch — Democrat

Frank Huskins — Democrat

James Exum — Democrat

David Britt — Democrat

Phil Carlton — Democrat

William Copeland — Democrat

Louis Meyer — recused

In Rosie J. v North Carolina Department of Human Resources, 347 NC 247 (1997), the Supreme Court of North Carolina decided that abortion funding was not compelled by the state constitution. The justices and their party affiliations were as follows.

Majority In Dissent

Chief Justice Burley Mitchell — Democrat

Sarah Parker — Democrat

John Webb — Democrat

Henry Frye —Democrat

Willis Wichard — Democrat

Bev Lake Jr. — Republican

Robert Orr — Republican

In Manning v Jim Hunt, 119 F. 3rd 254, (4th Cir. 1997), the Court of Appeals upheld North Carolina’s law requiring parental consent for abortion. The District Court judge who upheld it was Lacey Thornburg, who had been a Democrat Attorney General and was appointed by Bill Clinton to be the federal district judge for western North Carolina.

My speculation on the answer:

1. Although former Chief Justice Cheri Beasley never ruled on abortion, she made her devotion to abortion the centerpiece of her losing campaign for the U.S. Senate.

2. Justice Sam Ervin IV and Judge Lucy Inman lost their bids for election to the Supreme Court. One of their joint ads proclaimed their allegiance to abortion as the reason to vote for them. Neither of them had ever ruled on an abortion-related case.

3. Until the 21st Century, there were plenty of pro-life elected Democrats. In 1981 a pro-life parental and informed consent bill was sponsored by several senior pro-life Democrat senators. It passed the Democratic Senate but was then reconsidered and tanked.

Since then almost all pro-life Democrat legislators have been purged from the party. Exceptions include the Louisiana governor and legislature, and Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, He is the last Democrat pro-life congressman standing. There may be three or four N.C. House Democrats.

The author served 16 years in the State House – the last ten as Republican Leader and then Speaker Pro Tem. For further information see www.paulstam.info.