RALEIGH – After a thee-judge panel of the N.C. Court of Appeals blocked Voter ID implementation just weeks before the 2020 primary elections, defending lawmakers called for an en banc hearing in which the full N.C. Court of Appeals considers the case. Now, state lawmakers are calling on one of the judges on that bench to recuse herself due to glaring conflicts of interest when it comes to Voter ID lawsuits.
Judge Christopher Brook used to be the legal director for the N.C. ACLU chapter; a role in which he literally led legal efforts to overturn Voter ID and frequently harangued those that supported it as being racist in motivation. Now that he serves on the Court of Appeals, the Voter ID case injects a massive conflict in terms of impartiality. So lawmakers are asking that he recuse himself.
From the Office of N.C. Speaker of the House Tim Moore (R-Cleveland):
“[…] Attorneys for General Assembly leaders filed the motion to recuse Judge Brook in the North Carolina Court of Appeals on Friday in a case considering the state’s voter ID law, Holmes v. Moore.
North Carolina is the last state in the Southeast not to have some form of voter ID. The state’s voter ID law is ‘non-strict,’ meaning voters can still cast a ballot without presenting a qualifying ID at the polls by simply by signing an affidavit.
The motion for recusal provides hundreds of pages of documentation of Judge Brook’s prior legal advocacy and public statements opposing voter ID in North Carolina
“These and other facts laid out below raise a reasonable question of impartiality and thus form a firm ground for Judge Brook’s disqualification,” state lawmakers wrote to the court on Friday. […]”
The possibility that Judge Brook would NOT recuse himself is crazy, and reveals just how far some take their activist approach to the bench. You could create all sorts of analogies about the appearance of conflict and impartiality to frame this particular dilemma, but we don’t have to — the facts are plain as they can be. He led an active legal assault as an attorney on this exact issue, helping to smear proponents of Voter ID as racist and probably why Governor Roy Cooper decided to appoint him to the bench; now he is on a court that will hear and decide the case.
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If Brook does not recuse himself it will be a travesty of the judicial system in North Carolina, and an ominous sign for the people of North Carolina.