Under the Dome

NC board to discuss new process for NC Supreme Court elections

A three-judge panel has signed an order blocking a 2015 law that would have changed how sitting state Supreme Court judges are elected.

On Thursday, the state Board of Elections is set to meet to discuss how to proceed this year with elections to the state’s highest court.

Only one state Supreme Court seat is up for grabs this November, that of associate justice Robert Edmunds.

Under the retention election rule, Edmunds would have run against his own record before any other candidates could file a candidacy.

Voters would have been asked whether Edmunds should be retained in the post. If voters cast more ballots against his retention than for it, the race would then open to others who wanted to seek the seat.

Sabra Faires, a Wake County attorney, filed a lawsuit last year asking the three-judge panel to toss out the law, arguing that moving from contested elections to up-or-down retention votes was a change that required a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution – something that did not happen.

Faires and two Wake County voters who joined her in the lawsuit faced off against the state Board of Elections in a hearing last month.

Not long after that hearing, attorneys were notified that Superior Court Judges Anna Mills Wagoner, Lisa Bell and Ben Alford had ruled for Faires.

The attorneys drew up an order that was signed by the panel on Feb. 29.

In addition to agreeing to both prongs of Faire’s arguments, the panel also halted the retention election that had been scheduled for this year.

If judges rule as they have indicated and an appeal is filed, the case would then go to the N.C. Supreme Court.

By late Monday, there had been no announcements from state lawmakers of plans to appeal the ruling, but that could happen.