Gavel Grab

Election Support Cited in Recusal Request for North Carolina Judge

Groups including the North Carolina NAACP, the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and Democracy North Carolina have asked North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby to step aside from participating in a legislative and congressional redistricting case.

The groups are plaintiffs in the redistricting case, and they submitted a motion contending that financial support from persons and groups having a direct stake in the case ”had a significant and disproportionate influence in Justice Newby’s victory” on Election Day, according to a (Raleigh) News & Observer article.

“If justice and fairness are to prevail, the integrity of the court’s justices and the proceedings cannot be influenced by money or even have the appearance of being sold to the highest bidder,” state NAACP President Rev. William Barber said, according to a Charlotte Post report.

Recent media reports have put at $2.3 million the outside support that Justice Newby benefited from in his election win over Judge Sam Ervin IV; super PACs were instrumental in the heavy spending.

A spokesman for one group that spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of Justice Newby, Americans for Prosperity, warned that the motion would put in place a “horrific standard.” Said Dallas Woodhouse, ”If the standard is that judges should recuse themselves based on independent expenditures that they had nothing to do with, I promise you, they will come to regret that standard.”

Those parties seeking Justice Newby’s recusal said, among other legal arguments, that “it is required as a matter of law” by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark judicial election case ruling from West Virginia, called Caperton v. Massey. To learn about that case, see Justice at Stake’s resources page about it.

Democracy North Carolina, a JAS partner group, had a blog post about the recusal motion.

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