|Justice Paul Newby|
The only registered Republican on the state Supreme Court in North Carolina said two weekends ago in a roughly nine-minute speech “If we [Americans] are as bad as the other side says we are, I will buy you a ticket to leave. I mean, just leave.”
In the speech, Justice Paul Newby – reportedly the longest-serving member of the court – asked his audience right out of the gate to “Imagine seven AOC’s on the state Supreme Court.” This was, of course, a reference to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), but it was also a reference to the other members of the state Supreme Court, himself excluded — “Well folks, we’ve got six. It’s six to one. As my daughter Sarah said, I am the last man standing.”
What was the purpose of this speech? According to local news outlet WRAL, which first reported on Newby’s speech, Newby was “upset when Gov. Roy Cooper appointed [Chief Justice Cheri] Beasley to the top spot on the court to fill a vacancy earlier this year. He’s running against her for the seat next year in one of three Supreme Court races on the ballot, all of which are likely to be well-funded partisan affairs.”
Newby began his speech by asking a question and answering it: “Sue till you’re blue. Sue till you’re blue. What do you think the most dangerous branch of government is? The judicial branch is the correct answer.”
From here, Newby said that big spending on the state Supreme Court was a strategy that could be traced to former President Barack Obama and “those who were part of his inner circle to stack the state Supreme Court”:
"In 2018, the left put $1.5 million to get their AOC person on the court. Is this unique in North Carolina? No. According to a recent article in the Washington Times, this has been a long term strategy by Obama and those who were part of his inner circle to stack the state Supreme Court for that day when the U.S. Supreme Court would say, well, that is not a federal issue, we’ll give it back to the states."
According to NC Policy Watch, the “AOC person” he was referring to was Justice Anita Earls. The same article said that “State judicial code makes discipline unlikely for Justice Paul Newby.”
Newby went on to say, however, that something could be done about stacking of the courts:
"Well one is, we can have some really good candidates. Now there will be three seats open on the North Carolina Supreme Court, OK. I’m running for Chief Justice. The Governor had an opportunity to do the right thing and appoint the senior associate that’s been done pretty much throughout history — but this will shock you, I hope you’re sitting down, those of you that can’t find a seat, get ready for this — this Governor that we have now is a political preacher who does what politics mandates over what is right for the state.
"We the people can change that. We can elect the senior associate [me, Paul Newby] for chief justice. Tamara Barringer, Phil Berger Jr. will be running for the Supreme Court — we can go to 3-4 or we could be 0-7. This will be November 2020."
Newby eventually appealed to the Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address before saying people coming to America “illegally or any other way” are doing so to escape socialist countries:
"I want you to think about President Lincoln’s closing prayer in his Gettysburg address. He says that this nation under God might have a new birth of freedom, and that a government of the people, by the people for the people would not perish from the face of the earth. Why are people trying to get into this country — let’s use common sense — why are people trying to get into this country illegally or any other way? Because it is freedom and liberty, folks. And what countries are they leaving? Socialism. I’m sorry, we may not be perfect, but we’re the best nation in the world and why don’t we just use common sense?
"If we’re as bad as the other side says we are, I will buy you a ticket to leave. I mean, just leave. You’ve got freedom here in America to leave. We don’t build laws to keep you in. We ought to have a wall to keep you out if you’re trying to get here illegally. That’s wrong, OK? So that’s my prayer."
As Judge Newby was speaking these words the day before Twitterman tweeted the infamous "go back where you came from" series of rants against members of the US Congress and several days before the crowd at the rally in Greenville turned the sentiment into a racist chant, it appears that Judge Newby was exceptionally prescient in catching the Trumpian wave before it crested.
As Rob Schofield pointed out yesterday, Judge Newby not only violated a basic standard of decency, continuing to bash a female member of Congress who is already under death threats, but he also appeared to violate a canon of judicial conduct: "A judge should … conduct himself/herself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.” By impugning the integrity of his fellow justices and implying they are "socialists" ("seven AOCs"), Newby was hardly promoting "public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary."
I don't think he was affected by the cresting wave so much as he represents the effect of a slow-rising Trumplican water that has turned Republicans into heels-dragging defenders of a white supremacy (with its corporate-led power) they fear is being colorized. Newby, like many others (Tillis comes to mind), had already been turned over the last three years. Maybe that is being prescient, regardless, he's got lots of company.
If fear is the modern motivator, Trump has honed it well. This is a political/social contest to be fought over the next twenty years. My fear is that is will be made redundant by life-threatening climate change, which may get second-fiddle in those years.
I hope I'm wrong and that my grandchildren and their cohorts, now poised to take more of the reins of society, are able to navigate it successfully for future humanity.
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