Federal appellate judges affirmed on Monday their earlier decision blocking a lower court’s order that would have reinstated primary elections this year for statewide judicial offices. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals vacated a Jan. 31 order by U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles that effectively required 2018 primaries for statewide judgeships that had been waived by a new state law. The Republican-led General Assembly passed the law in 2017 to cancel judicial primaries during the 2018 election cycle while it considers plans to overhaul the state judiciary, including appellate, superior and district courts.
The N.C. Democratic Party, its Guilford County chapter and several other county affiliates sued to reinstate the 2018 judicial primaries, saying that eliminating them violated the political party’s “associational” rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
In her January order, Eagles approved a preliminary injunction against the part of the law that voided statewide primaries for seats on the N.C. Court of Appeals and the N.C. Supreme Court.