With midterm elections approaching, two critical North Carolina Supreme Court races are on the ballot. The election results will determine which party controls the future of abortion and gerrymandering.
The North Carolina Supreme Court currently includes four Democrats and three Republicans selected through partisan elections. The two open seats are currently held by Democratic justices, so if Republicans win just one of the races, the GOP will control the court.
Two current North Carolina Court of Appeals judges, Republican Richard Dietz and Democrat Lucy Inman, are running to replace current Associate Justice Robin Hudson in Seat 3.
Dietz and Inman have both served on the Court of Appeals since 2014 and are running on their experience in appellate courts and the legal profession. Dietz was a lawyer for Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP and argued in front of the US Supreme Court in a gun law case. Inman practiced law in Raleigh, specializing in defending clients with catastrophic injury, wrongful death or sexual abuse cases.
Incumbent Democrat Justice Sam Ervin and current General Council for the North Carolina Court Administrative Office Trey Allen will run in the race for Seat 5.
Ervin has served on both the North Carolina Supreme Court and the North Carolina Court of Appeals and has extensive experience on the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Allen has served as a judge advocate in the United States Marines, specialized in private law and worked in the public sector as a law clerk for Paul Newby, chief justice of North Carolina.
Supreme Court Associate Justices serve eight year terms.
“I think it's really important to understand the power that our state Supreme Court and appellate courts have in decisions that touch all areas of life,” said Carol Moreno, policy and program associate for Democracy NC, a non-partisan group that works to increase voter education and voter protection throughout North Carolina. “Knowing the power that they have had in protecting the representation of voters is really essential for people to be informed about.”
The results of the races will determine which party will have the power to regulate abortion laws.
Although none of the candidates have directly stated their stance on abortion, Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic has endorsed both Ervin and Inman.
A second pertinent issue for this election is gerrymandering and redistricting.
The ruling of Moore v. Harper will determine the power of the North Carolina Supreme Court to regulate a gerrymandered congressional map drawn by the North Carolina legislature. The ruling will determine whether state supreme courts can check the power of state legislatures in matters of federal elections.
“If Moore v. Harper were to move forward, on any level, it would pretty much mean that the checks and balances would not be sustained,” Moreno said.
The U.S. Supreme Court is not expected to issue its decision until next spring.
“Our state supreme court justices are really essential,” Moreno said. “And people need to be thinking about all the issues that they take into consideration.”
For information on voting in the midterm elections, visit The Chronicle’s voting guide.
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