A North Carolina law canceling this year’s judicial primaries came Wednesday before a federal judge who will decide whether the law should be implemented after hearing arguments about the right of political parties to back candidates and the General Assembly’s authority to set election parameters. The state Democratic Party and several county Democratic parties sued last month over an October law that eliminated partisan primaries for trial and appellate court judgeships for this year only. They said it violated their constitutional right to associate as a party and choose in an election people they believe best represents their party for the general elections.
Democrats asked U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles to block the law so candidate filing could be held starting Feb. 12 with a partisan primary in May, like other 2018 elections for Congress and the legislature. Otherwise, the new law directs June candidate filing for one November election that could feature multiple candidates from multiple parties, along with other unaffiliated candidates.
“The right here is the right to select the standard-bearer for the party,” Democratic Party attorney Eddie Speas told Eagles, adding that doing away with partisan primaries for partisan elections “is anti-democratic. It’s contrary to our form of government.”