Reading the GOP’s motion to have Supreme Court Justice Jimmy Ervin recuse himself, it’s hard to tell whether the legislators are trolling Democrats or the Carolina Journal. Regardless, it’s clearly not a serious proposal. Their reasoning lacks reason and their logic is illogical. It really doesn’t even deserve a response.
I suspect it’s a reaction to the Democrats’ push to have Phil Berger, Jr., removed from the case because his father is a defendant and because he headlined a fundraiser for the Republicans running for state legislature, who are also defendants. Berger’s conflict is clear. He wants the Republicans to hold a majority in the legislature to both protect his father’s position and legacy and promote a conservative agenda. And let’s be serious. Berger would not even have a political career, much less a seat on the Supreme Court, if not for carrying his father’s name.
Still, the Carolina Journal wrote article after article blasting Democrats for seeking Berger’s recusal. Now, they are going to make hypocrites of themselves by either supporting Ervin’s recusal or feigning neutrality. Maybe I’m being too harsh and we’ll see an article calling for Ervin to stay and calling out the Republicans’ folly, but we’re more likely see pretzel-like logic to explain why they support recusal of Ervin, but not Berger.
As for the poor argument, there’s little chance redistricting impacts turnout in the 2022 election. The U. S. Senate race, which is a statewide contest, is the only race that will significantly impact the turnout and make-up of the election. Ervin’s race will not be affected by the cases before the court unless Republicans make his decision on redistricting a part of their campaign. That’s on them, not Ervin, and they could do that with virtually any decision he has made during his tenure on the bench.
The whole debate gets to another point, though. Democrats tried to take partisanship out of the court as much as possible by making the elections for Supreme Court nonpartisan. When Republicans gained control of the legislature, they made all judicial races partisan again. If redistricting influences the Supreme Court races, it’s because of the actions that Republicans took to align them with political parties. And more competitive races could aren’t guaranteed to benefit or even impact either party.
After Republicans restored partisanship, they quickly lost control of the Supreme Court and now they’re trying to rig it in their favor. The will of the people is pretty clear. They wanted a Supreme Court to balance Republican dominance in state government. Now they need to live with the result and quit making clownish arguments to shape the courts like they’ve shaped the legislative and Congressional districts.
There’s no good reason for Justice Ervin to recuse himself.