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N.C. redistrict plaintiffs want justice's recusal
Advocates: Super PAC funds a conflict of interest
 
Published Sunday, November 25, 2012 10:27 am
by Herbert L. White

Civil and voting rights advocates are demanding N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby step aside from a redistricting case before the panel.

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N.C. Supreme Court Justic Paul Newby.


The N.C. NAACP, Democracy North Carolina, A. Philip Randolph Institute and League of Women Voters filed the motion asking Newby to recuse himself from the trial because his reelection campaign received money from Republican super PACs with a vested interest in conservative legislative control.

N.C. judicial races are nonpartisan, but GOP-leaning PACs – mostly out of state – pumped an estimated $2 million into Newby’s race against Sam Ervin IV. Newby was re-elected earlier this month.


“If justice and fairness are to prevail, the integrity of the court's justices and the proceedings cannot be influenced by money or even have the appearance of being sold to the highest bidder,” state NAACP President Rev. William Barber said at a Nov. 21 press conference. “Whenever this possibility arises, we must call on the court to examine itself, and if necessary, recuse any justice or judge whose ability to rule fairly has been tempted or tampered with.”


The plaintiffs are suing the state over the redrawing of legislative and congressional districts by the Republican-dominated General Assembly. The petitioners allege the remapping isolates African American and Latino voters into Democratic-leaning districts while whites were drawn into GOP strongholds that ensure a Republican majority.


The plaintiffs contend three right-wing groups – NC Judicial Commission, Justice for All NC and the Republican State Leadership Committee – backed Newby’s campaign, rendering him unfit to sit on the case.


“We believe the redistricting plan fundamentally violates civil and voting rights guaranteed by the Constitution and it should be heard and examined on these merits and not potentially decided based on who paid for or influenced the election of any particular justice,” Barber said. …


“This raises serious questions as to whether or not Justice Newby can rule impartially on the redistricting case. The decisions made in this case will have profound implications on the state of representative government for all North Carolinians and especially African Americans, Latinos, and women for the next 20-30 years. These are no small matters and they deserve a fair and impartial hearing.”
 
 

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