Legislators filed a motion in North Carolina Supreme Court asking Justice Sam Ervin to recuse himself from a redistricting case.
Justice Ervin is the only Supreme Court judge on the ballot in 2022, and the matters before the court directly affect his reelection campaign.
Previous Supreme Court justices recused themselves from hearing election-related cases when they were campaigning for reelection, including Justice Bob Edmunds in 2016 and Justice Robin Hudson in 2006.
And just a few months ago, Superior Court Judge Paul Ridgeway recused himself from hearing the very case that is before Justice Ervin because, in Judge Ridgeway’s words, his “impartiality as a judge could reasonably be questioned when ruling on matters directly impacting the administration of the 2022 primary and general elections.”
That Justice Ervin’s participation in this case materially impacts his own reelection campaign is not in question.
The Supreme Court, presumably with Justice Ervin’s involvement, moved all primary elections in the state from March to May, including the primary election for Justice Ervin’s Supreme Court seat.
Doing so forces Justice Ervin’s two Republican opponents to spend an additional two months spending money and battling one another in their primary campaign instead of focusing their attention on Justice Ervin. This materially benefits Justice Ervin’s reelection prospects.
The N.C. Democratic Party even sent out a press release boasting of the advantages to Democratic candidates of a contested Republican primary.
The Democratic Party press release emphasized that “Democrats are united” while “Republicans are locked into a costly primary brawl.” The party highlighted their “ability to unite early behind one candidate,” saying it “brings an obvious benefit for Democrats.”
Bottom line: The decisions the Supreme Court makes on this case directly impact Justice Ervin’s own reelection campaign. Justice Ervin should do what previous judges have done in similar circumstances: recuse himself.