As a trial judge of the Superior Court of North Carolina, I believe that partisanship has no place in our courtrooms. After 24 years on the bench in Cumberland County, it’s my turn to put the gavel down and pick up the mic. That’s why I’m campaigning against two amendments on the ballot this fall.

Over the last few years, state and federal courts have ruled multiple times that laws passed by our state legislature are unconstitutional. Now, the legislature is pushing constitutional amendments on the ballot this November that will give them control over the courts. They want judges who will do their bidding and rubber stamp their agenda.

This isn’t the legislature’s first attempt to bully the judiciary. They’ve changed the way judges are elected. They tried to gerrymander judicial districts, targeting judges on the basis of race, gender and party affiliation. Now, they are proposing an amendment to change the process for filling judicial vacancies that occur between elections.

This legislature will stop at nothing to try and consolidate its power at the expense of the other two branches of government — destroying the balance of power.

The legislature wants to take away the governor’s power to make judicial appointments and assume that power for themselves.

Don’t be fooled by the language on the ballot. The legislature wrote the amendment language to make it sound as if the “people” of the state who will make that determination through a commission appointed by the judicial, legislative, and executive branches who will make “recommendations.” That’s false

The truth is that the legislature has reserved all the power for itself. It will be the legislature that determines the nominees and the governor can’t say no.

As if that’s not bad enough, the legislature wants to go even further by giving themselves the power to appoint an eight member board of “Ethics and Election Enforcement” to administer elections law and investigate ethics complaints.

Again, don’t be fooled by the bipartisan language on the ballot. With four Democrats and four Republicans, the legislature intentionally designed this board to create deadlock. Deadlock will keep this board from agreeing on common-sense election plans and could block investigations into corrupt politicians. A 4-4 board will cost the taxpayers of our state countless dollars in unnecessary litigation.

The people of North Carolina cannot allow this blatant attempt to upend the balance of power our system of government is founded upon. The people of North Carolina cannot allow the legislature to strip away the powers of the governor or take away the independence of our courts.

We must see past the false and misleading game the legislature is playing on the people of our state. We must remind them that they are one of three co-equal branches of government and that each of those branches is a check upon the others.

I urge my fellow North Carolinians to join me in voting no on these two amendments.

 

Gregory Weeks served as a Superior Court Judge in Cumberland County for 24 years and now works with various boards and causes dedicated to addressing racial and ethnic disparities in our justice system. He recently spoke out against the two power grab amendments in a press conference with the Stop Deceptive Amendments campaign. Go to stopdeceptiveamendments.com for more.