RALEIGH – Instead of honoring the voters that elected outgoing Republican Chief Justice Republican Mark Martin by elevating a similarly inclined justice to fill his spot, Gov. Roy Cooper took the opportunity to elevate a Democrat on the high court bench.
BREAKING NEWS: Gov. Cooper naming Cheri Beasley as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. She becomes the first Black woman to hold the position and replaces Mark Martin who is leaving to become dean of a law school. #ncpol #ncga @NCCourts
— Tim Boyum (@TimBoyumTV) February 12, 2019
While Beasley is an associate justice on the N.C. Supreme Court, Cooper broke traditional protocol by passing over Senior Associate Justice Paul Newby. Newby is the most senior justice behind chief justice and he is most similar to Martin in judicial philosophy. The snub of Justice Newby is really a snub of all the voters that placed Martin in the chief justice position in the first place.
Newby has indicated he will run for the chief justice role in the election.
In addition to elevating a Democrat, Cooper now gets to boast that he appointed the first black woman to hold the position, undoubtedly a factor in his nakedly political decision. Cooper gets to fill Beasley’s position, too, through the end of next year. Does anyone have a guess from which party that appointment will be?
Still, the appointment is merely temporary as the role will ultimately be filled by way of election in 2020. There will be a lot of movement as a result of Chief Justice Mark martin’s early departure. By picking a chief justice from the current court, Cooper insured three of the seven seats will be on the 2020 ballot: the chief justice seat, Justice Newby’s current spot, and the associate justice seat about to become vacant with Beasley’s elevation.
Let’s hope the NCGOP puts more effort into these three supreme court races than they did in the last two.