State Politics

Common Cause ad opposes “court packing”

Common Cause hit TV markets in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte on Monday with an ad rallying opposition to a rumored General Assembly plan to add two Republican justices to the state Supreme Court when it meets in special session this week.

The special session is to allocate disaster relief money for parts of the state hit by hurricane-related flooding and by wildfires. But Gov. Pat McCrory’s proclamation convening the legislature is open-ended, fanning widespread speculation that the “court packing” scheme is afoot.

If the legislature expands the court, as it is legally permitted to do, then outgoing governor McCrory could make the appointments before the end of his term in January. That would offset the Democratic majority on the seven-member court due to the unexpected election of Superior Court Judge Michael Morgan last month. Legislative leaders have been non-committal.

Common Cause reports it is spending $200,000 on the 30-section TV spot, which urges viewers to contact legislative leaders to oppose any such plan.

“It would be outrageous if the legislature uses what is supposed to be a special session intended to help victims of natural disasters to instead cynically play partisan games with our state's highest court,” Bob Phillips, executive director of Common Cause NC, said in a statement. “Such a move would threaten the independence of the judiciary, undermine the integrity of the legislature and it would be an attack on the right of North Carolina voters to directly elect our state's Supreme Court justices.”

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO