In 2016, Democrat Mike Morgan won a hotly contested seat on North Carolina’s state Supreme Court, flipping the court to a 4–3 liberal majority. Ever since, Republicans in the state have engaged in a great deal of chicanery to prevent Democrats from winning another seat in 2018. For a while, they appeared destined to succeed. But a last-minute twist may thwart their carefully laid plans, allowing yet another progressive Democrat to flip a Republican-held seat in the November election.
The North Carolina Supreme Court plays a major role in the state’s politics due largely to the sharp split between the governor and legislature. Republicans hold a super-majority in the North Carolina General Assembly thanks to a racial gerrymandering that has been ruled illegal, while Democrat Roy Cooper serves as governor. Since Cooper won in 2016, Republicans have passed a series of laws stripping his office of power and entrenching GOP rule. (Cooper has attempted to block these extreme measures, but the legislature can easily override his veto.) The state Supreme Court, however, has managed to strike down Republicans’ more egregious power-grabs by consistent 4–3 votes, ruling that they violate the state constitution. (Read more)