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New Year, Same Fight Over Judicial Elections

gavel at courtroom
William Johnson
US Airforce Photo

A senate committee looking at judicial redistricting and reform will meet Wednesday in Raleigh, a few weeks after Democrats walked out of a previous meeting.

The Republican chairs had refused to allow a retired superior court judge invited by Democrats to address the committee.

When Democrats submitted a list of proposed speakers for this week's meeting, the GOP chairmen agreed only on two conditions. First, that Governor Roy Cooper's general counsel appear, and second, that Democratic committee members promise not to walk out and to submit their own redistricting proposal.

Democrats did not respond.

Senator Jay Chaudhuri is a Wake County Democrat and one of the committee members.

"We operated on good faith in hopes of a bi-partisan solution on judicial reform and that hasn't been the case thus far," he said. "If this is a bi-partisan effort to find common ground it's incumbent upon the chairs of the committee to hear various perspectives."

Senator Dan Bishop is one of the GOP chairs. He said Democrats have not tried to help in any meaningful way.

"If they want to proceed in way that increases partisan rancor then they'll do that, if they want to proceed in a way that's constructive, I'm looking forward to engaging with them," he said.

The Republican-led committee could come up with a proposal on replacing judicial elections with a merit selection process by the end of the special session starting next week.

Republican lawmakers hope to come up with a proposal for a judicial merit selection process by the end of the special session starting next week.

Rusty Jacobs is WUNC's Voting and Election Integrity Reporter.
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