Primaries for North Carolina state appellate court seats won’t happen this year if a federal appeals court decision stands. A panel of judges Friday reversed a lower court decision that would have required the primaries, giving a victory to Republican state lawmakers. The GOP-controlled General Assembly voted last October to cancel the 2018 primaries for both trial court and appellate court seats. GOP lawmakers argued it made sense to hold only one general election for each seat this year because the House and Senate were debating changes to election districts for the trial court seats. They said they didn’t want to create confusion if new districts were approved after candidate filing was completed under previous boundaries.
The state Democratic Party and several county Democratic parties sued, saying their First Amendment right to association was harmed by the cancellations because they use primaries to coalesce party voters around favored candidates.
The decision by a majority on a panel on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals came three days before candidate filing would have started for three seats on the state Court of Appeals and one for the state Supreme Court. If Friday’s order is upheld, filing for the seats won’t occur until June.