Hilariously, Rep. David Lewis, a Harnett County Republican, and Sen. Ralph Hise, a Mitchell County Republican, criticized the decision as “partisan.” Those guys just don't get irony at all.
Anne Blythe provides a thumbnail history of the ways in which the Republican General Assembly has attempted to shape the courts for their partisan ambitions:
Since Republicans gained control of the General Assembly in 2010, lawmakers have tried to make many changes to the courts, which weigh the constitutionality of their laws. They have done away with public financing of campaigns, reinstated partisan races at a time when many states are moving away from them and decreased the size of the state appeals court shortly after Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat who appoints judges to vacancies on the bench, defeated Gov. Pat McCrory.
In 2015, the year before Republican Bob Edmunds’ term on the state Supreme Court expired, Republican lawmakers tried to change how sitting judges stood for re-election. A Superior Court judge panel found the law, which would have shielded sitting justices from opposition on the ballot unless they lost a “retention election,” to be a violation of the state Constitution. Because the Supreme Court split 3-3 on the question, with Edmunds abstaining, the lower court ruling forced a competitive race in 2016.
That year, Democrat Mike Morgan defeated Edmunds.