INSTITUTE INDEX: The N.C. legislature's hostile takeover of the courts

The Justice Building in Raleigh houses the N.C. Supreme Court, which along with other state courts has been targeted by Republican legislators looking to increase their power over the judiciary. (Photo by Alexisrael via Wikipedia.)

Year Republicans won majorities in both chambers of the North Carolina legislature for the first time since Reconstruction, allowing them to draw new legislative district maps: 2010

Year Republicans extended those legislative majorities to veto-proof supermajorities attained through electoral maps that the courts have since ruled to be illegal racial gerrymanders: 2012

Amount N.C. Republican lawmakers have spent over the last five years defending in court their controversial laws on everything from legislative districts to voter ID to transgender people's use of public bathrooms: more than $10.5 million

Number of actions they've taken in recent years to change the makeup and independence of state, district and local courts: at least 12

Date on which the N.C. legislature sustained a bill eliminating judicial primary elections that Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper had vetoed: 10/16/2017

Days later that they introduced a bill to wipe out the terms of all state judges, from the N.C. Supreme Court to the district courts, at the close of 2018 and require them to run again: 1

Number of years that local, district and state judges now serve: 4 or 8

Years they would serve should the bill become law, thus intensifying the demands of the electoral cycle: 2

Number of other states with two-year terms for judges: 0

Date on which former N.C. Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr, a Republican, called the proposal "wrong" and "an effort to intimidate the judiciary": 10/17/2017

Spending on ads last year for a single N.C. Supreme Court race, which was technically nonpartisan but which the Democrat won, shifting the court's partisan balance: $2.8 million

Weeks after that election that the N.C. legislature required state Supreme Court candidates to run in partisan judicial elections, which create barriers for unaffiliated candidates and which a 2012 study found are connected to greater political spending: 5

Months after that move the legislature extended the partisan election requirement to North Carolina's superior and district court judges: 3

Year in which a state last moved to partisan elections for judges: 1921

Number of seats by which the N.C. legislature shrank the state Court of Appeals in order to deprive Gov. Cooper of naming replacements for retiring Republicans: 3

Month in which N.C. lawmakers drew new boundaries for judicial districts statewide to make it easier for GOP judges to win: 10/2017

Percent of current district court judges who are double-bunked in the proposed map, meaning they'd have to run against another sitting judge: 32

Percent of women district court judges who are double-bunked: 37

Percent of black district court judges who are double-bunked: 53

(Click on figure to go to source.)