The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday February 4th

Two Republicans win seats on the NC Supreme Court, flipping majority

The Supreme Court of North Carolina, located in Raleigh, is pictured on Aug. 26, 2022.
Buy Photos The Supreme Court of North Carolina, located in Raleigh, is pictured on Aug. 26, 2022.

Republicans have reclaimed a majority of the North Carolina Supreme Court with the election of Judge Richard Dietz to Seat 3 and Trey Allen to Seat 5.

Both seats were previously held by Democrats, allowing Republicans to take a 5-2 majority.

Seat 3

Dietz narrowly beat Democratic candidate Lucy Inman for the open Seat 3 with just over 52 percent of votes statewide.

Inman won Orange County by collecting over 77 percent of the votes cast.

Dietz said in an email statement to The Daily Tar Heel that he centered his campaign on being a leader in the court system, basing his definition on skill, character and improvement of the justice system beyond the courtroom.

“I’ve made the theme of my campaign ‘leadership, not politics,’" he said. "I don’t bring any political mission to my job. My only mission — from the moment I took the oath as a judge--is to defend our rights, protect the rule of law, and help people resolve their legal disputes fairly."

Seat 5

Incumbent Justice Sam Ervin IV lost his reelection bid against Republican Trey Allen. Ervin earned about 47.6 percent of the vote, while Allen gained 52.4 percent.

Allen is currently general counsel for the N.C. Administrative Office of the Courts, and was formerly on the faculty of the UNC School of Government as an associate professor. He has worked as a clerk for the court’s Chief Justice Paul Newby and is a Marine Corps veteran.

“I hope he enjoys doing the work of the court as much as I have,” Ervin said.

Allen’s judicial philosophy, according to his website, is based on the idea that “judges must follow the Constitution as originally understood and the laws as written.”

He says on his website that judges should remain non-partisan, and that judges who issue rulings based on their political views, “they exceed their authority and abuse the public’s trust.”

Allen’s term will last until 2030.

Republican majority

Having a Republican majority in the N.C. Supreme Court opens the opportunity for the overturning of various decisions made along party lines, such as the N.C. Supreme Court’s order to allocate of hundreds of millions of dollars for public education in the Hoke County Board of Education v. North Carolina case.

Some N.C. voters are concerned that the Republican majority will impact reproductive rights in the state.

“The Supreme Court races for North Carolina are very important to me specifically due to the ongoing legislation on abortion rights and health care for pregnancy,” said Anne Stuart Freemon, a 19-year-old nursing major at UNC.

Currently, abortion access is legal in North Carolina through 20 weeks of pregnancy, but the shift in majority could allow for harsher abortion restrictions.

The state Supreme Court has also been involved in gerrymandering cases, including a recent case which determined that a racially gerrymandered legislature cannot propose amendments to the state’s constitution.

The Court also ordered districts to be redrawn in February. Leaders in the Republican-led General Assembly appealed this intervention to the Supreme Court. The case, Moore v. Harper, will be argued in the U.S. Supreme Court in December.

“With the U.S. Supreme Court decision coming out soon about whether or not they have the right to gerrymander without the NC court being able to say anything makes me really nervous for our voting rights in the future,” Kailey Murray, a fifth-year senior at UNC and resident of Chapel Hill, said.

Hannah Ma and Sam Kornylak contributed reporting for this story.

@eliza_benbow | @ethanehorton1

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com

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