Supreme Court Retention Elections Struck Down in N.C.

A three-judge Superior Court panel has struck down a 2015 law that introduced a retention election option for North Carolina Supreme Court justices seeking a new term, ruling it unconstitutional, according to the Associated Press.

The law gives elected justices the option to stand for additional eight-year terms in an up-or-down vote as opposed to a contested election, it and was slated to be used for the first time in November by Justice Bob Edmunds. A candidate filing period for Edmunds’ seat may now have to be opened should retention elections be officially found unlawful.

The ruling won’t be official until an order is written and signed and can be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

According to the newspaper, initial challengers of the retention election system argued that it was flawed on the grounds that it is “actually a referendum”  which “runs counter to the state Constitution’s mandate that justices must be elected.”

But proponents pointed to Tennessee court findings that retention elections satisfy that state’s similar Constitutional requirement for justices to be elected by voters.