The state’s Board of Elections on Saturday rejected a request from lawyers representing legislative leaders to change the election schedule for one seat on the N.C. Supreme Court. The board held an emergency meeting Saturday morning after lawyers for Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore on Friday asked that the candidate filing period for a seat on the Supreme Court be delayed because a case affecting that election is going through the appeals process. During a telephone discussion that lasted little more than an hour, board members raised concerns that voters already were confused by the recent remapping of congressional districts, the new voter ID requirements and other changes brought about by recent legislative and court decisions. They said they did not want to add further confusion.
At the end of the session, the board opted to keep the filing period schedule adopted on Thursday for state Supreme Court candidates. At issue is a case pending review by the court. Last legislative session, the General Assembly changed the law for how sitting state Supreme Court justices are elected.
The law established a retention election process through which sitting justices seeking re-election could first face the voters on the question of whether they should keep their seat. Only if voters decided against retention would the candidate field be open to others seeking a seat on the court, including the justice who failed to win the retention election.
In February, a three-judge state Superior Court panel struck down the retention election process as a violation of the N.C. Constitution. Last week, the state Attorney General’s Office asked the Supreme Court to review the decision, putting the question about re-election procedures to the same justices who could be subject to the law.