Gavel Grab

NC Campaign Cash Could Cause Tension in Courts

The 2012 race for a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court calls into question whether large campaign contributions will impact the judgment of those elected to the bench, says a WRAL.com article.

Justice Paul Newby won a second term on the high court after two independent groups raised and spent nearly $2 million to support him. About half of the money came from Republican groups such as the Republican State Leadership Committee, the article says.

Duke University law professor Paul Carrington says the Republicans gave large sums of money to Newby to sway his decisions in their favor. There is a possibility the Supreme Court may be asked to rule on the legality of new legislative districts drawn by Republican lawmakers.

“The only reason they would do that is because they think that Newby will sustain the redistricting arrangement. I think it’s pretty rotten,” Carrington said.

The article says Newby balked during his campaign when it was suggested that “his favor could be bought.” “If I were unable to uphold my oath, I would resign,” Newby said.

Under North Carolina’s code of judicial conduct, Newby would have to recuse himself from a case if there were any evidence of prejudice or bias concerning an involved party.

The article says North Carolina’s election is not a “clear-cut case” compared to West Virginia and Caperton v. Massey, a judicial election case that began there. In the West Virginia case, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state Justice Brent Benjamin should have recused himself from a case involving a donor who spent millions to help Benjamin’s campaign (see Gavel Grab).

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