Local leaders in opposition to the six constitutional amendments up for referendum during the midterm elections found support from a surprising source — the N.C. chapter of the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity announced on Oct. 15 their intention to campaign against the judicial vacancy amendment.
Americans for Prosperity, founded by brothers David and Charles Koch, is known for its influence and support of conservative and libertarian ideals in American politics.
“Americans for Prosperity — North Carolina will partner with anyone willing to implement good policy and will stand firm against any effort to implement bad policies,” the group said on its website. “That’s why we’re urging voters to vote no on this amendment.”
The particular amendment deals with the appointment of North Carolina’s justices. As the law stands now, the governor has the sole power to fill any judicial vacancy that occurs between elections.
Should the amendment pass, the process would involve more steps.
According to the amendment, a Nonpartisan Judicial Merit Commission will be formed to determine which judicial nominees are qualified to fill the empty seat. The commission will consist of no more than nine members whose appointments shall be allocated between the chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, the governor and the N.C. General Assembly.
Next, the legislature will recommend to the governor at least two justices from the pool of qualified nominees. The governor must then pick between these recommendations.
Pat Ryan, the spokesperson for N.C. Senate president pro tempore Phil Berger, said this amendment will reinforce the system of checks and balances between the three branches. He cited former Gov. Beverly Perdue’s outgoing appointment of four judges, two of which were from her own cabinet, as an example of the cronyism that this new amendment seeks to eliminate.
However, AFP-NC claims passing the amendment will have the opposite effect. Chris McCoy, the AFP-NC state director, said in a statement that the amendment would serve to give more power to special-interests and will politicize the courts.