Republicans win majority control of North Carolina Supreme Court in midterm elections

The much anticipated nationwide “red wave” did not materialize during Tuesday’s midterm elections, but that doesn’t mean that Republicans didn’t do well in certain states across the country.

One of those states is North Carolina, where Republicans won two seats on the state Supreme Court and flipped partisan control from Democratic to GOP for the first time since 2016, the Washington Examiner reported.

What was previously a court divided 4-3 in favor of Democrats will now be a 5-2 court dominated by Republicans.

Republicans sweep all statewide judicial contests

North Carolina’s The News & Observer reported that Republican attorney and professor Trey Allen defeated incumbent Democratic Justice Sam Ervin IV, while Republican Appeals Court Judge Richard Dietz bested Democratic Appeals Court Judge Lucy Inman for an open seat on the state’s high court, with both of those Republicans garnering around 53 percent of the vote in their respective races.

The new 5-2 majority for Republicans is a stark change from the 6-1 majority that Democrats enjoyed as recently as 2020, and is due to the fact that GOP candidates have won every state Supreme Court seat that has come up for a vote since then.

Four of the 15 seats on the state’s Court of Appeals were also up for grabs in this election cycle, three of which were open and one that a Democrat held, and the newspaper noted that Republicans appeared to have won all of those statewide judicial races as well.

The success for Republicans wasn’t just limited to the judiciary, though, according to WRAL, as the GOP also performed well in strengthening their control of the North Carolina legislature, winning a supermajority in the state Senate and expanding their influence over the state House, albeit falling just one seat shy of a supermajority in that chamber as well.

GOP solidly controls two-thirds of North Carolina government

This is all excellent news for North Carolina Republicans and their agenda, given their solid control over two of the state’s three branches of government, but also in that it likely sets the party up to continue to dominate the state for the remainder of the decade in terms of its congressional redistricting — which has been quite controversial over the past two years.

Currently, according to FiveThirtyEight, the state is temporarily using a nearly evenly-split partisan congressional district map drawn up by court-appointed experts after the Democratic-controlled courts rejected the GOP-favorable proposed maps of the Republican legislature.

The rejected Republican proposal would have resulted in 10 of the state’s 14 districts favoring the GOP but, because of the Democratic judges, is currently only slightly in favor of the GOP with seven red-leaning districts, six blue-leaning districts, and one competitive toss-up district.

GOP legislature will redraw congressional district maps again next year

The News & Observer noted that the Republican-led legislature intends to try to redraw the districts again next year, and those new maps will inevitably be challenged by Democrats, but the new Republican-majority state Supreme Court will presumably side with their partisan brethren in the legislature and uphold the yet-to-be-redrawn congressional districts.

Of course, that may actually become a moot point, as the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court has taken up the case involving North Carolina’s maps and will consider the “independent state legislature” legal theory which posits that the U.S. Constitution grants sole authority to state legislatures to craft election rules, including redistricting maps, and that state courts have no right to intervene in or overrule that process.

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