Gavel Grab

North Carolina Supreme Court: Recusal for Newby not Necessary

On Monday, the North Carolina Supreme Court rejected a request that Justice Paul Newby recuse himself from a redistricting case that will come before the court.

State Democrats, the local NAACP chapter, and other groups had requested that Newby not participate in the case due to the possibility of bias, reports the North Carolina News Observer.

Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP chapter, expressed disappointment in the decision, but remains confident that they will win the case in the long run.

“We believe we have a strong case against the current redistricting plans,” Barber said. “If it’s heard fairly, based on the law and not on any other outside influence, we believe we will be successful on the merits.”

Members of different groups argued that Newby would have a bias in the case due to his connection with groups that donated to his reelection campaign.

Dallas Woodhouse, Americans for Prosperity state director, argued that the court made the right call regarding recusal.

“The best I can ever tell, recusals were meant for direct conflicts of interest,” Woodhouse said. “I don’t believe there was one here.”

Michael J. Gerhardt, a professor of constitutional law at UNC Chapel Hill, argues in a Charlotte Observer opinion that Newby clearly needs to recuse himself.

Gerhardt notes that independent expenditures were greater than “390 percent” of Newby’s total campaign expenditures. These expenditures were made by groups that lobbied for the redistricting maps in question.

He says that North Carolina’s Code of Judicial Conduct calls for recusal in cases where a judge’s “impartiality may reasonably be questioned.” Without absolute confidence in the impartiality of Justice Newby, Gerhardt says it’s necessary for him to recuse himself.

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