A balanced bench
Voting is well under way for one seat on the state Supreme Court, three on the Court of Appeals and a peppering of judgeships throughout the lower courts. Still, the significant work of our Judicial Branch often goes unnoticed or underappreciated by those responsible for selecting its membership: we voters.
Not every state relies so fully on its citizens’ participation in the judicial process. Ours does, and voters should keep a few things in mind as we fill in the bubbles on the ballots.
Balance on our Supreme Court matters. Justices we select not only have the final word on the meaning of our state’s constitution and statutes, but they must often decide whether to strike or uphold enactments by our elected representatives in the other branches.
That task is weighty, and requires a fair-minded commitment to restraint that has guided the court in recent years. So the alarm of many over Supreme Court challenger Sam Ervin’s candidacy is understandable, especially given that incumbent Justice Paul Newby has long maintained the center-right orientation that has served our court and our state quite well.
We are lucky to choose between two super-credentialed candidates who care deeply for our state. Still, voters should consider that Ervin would shift the balance of our court in an unfamiliar direction.