Thursday, January 18, 2024

Some Justice For Earls


The new members of our court very much see themselves as a conservative bloc. They talk about themselves as ‘the conservatives.’ Their allegiance is to their ideology, not to the institution.
--Anita Earls, Assoc. Justice, NC Supreme Court

Not Paul Newby but the
authoritarian Savonarola

For saying such things, Justice Anita Earls has been put under investigation -- twice -- for impugning the integrity of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. The leader of "the conservatives," Chief Justice and Savonarola impersonator Paul Newby has had it in for her (a liberal who identifies as Black), and he led the court in promptly reversing decisions that Earl had a big hand in writing about ballot access and partisan gerrymandering -- after "the conservatives" took full power in 2020 and 2022.  In one part of an interview that Justice Earls gave Law 360, she said Newby had quietly disbanded the court’s Commission on Fairness and Equity and eliminated implicit bias training for judges. Newby didn't like it that she pointed that out, though he didn't dispute the accuracy. Even casual observers might note Newby's rigid plantation mind-set against an outspoken woman on the Court who founded the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in 2007, and whose civil rights advocacy is pure poison for a pious authoritarian. 

Newby had the Judicial Standards Commission under his thumb and could influence retaliation against Earls by threatening sanctions for "her mouth" (though Newby himself has spouted off his biases at more than one conservative rally). But, standby O brethren for a remarkable development -- Newby and the Standards Commission have pulled back their horns, stopped the investigation into Earls's freedom of speech, and dismissed the complaint against her.

Earls responded to this development by dropping the Federal lawsuit she filed six months ago to stop the Standards Commission's harassment. She had asked for an immediate injunction against the investigation as an infringement of her free speech rights, but a Federal judge denied the injunction. Before yesterday, the lawsuit was still pending. The capitulation of Newby's hench-people suggests something approaching a "settlement" between the two sides. And Earls was not the one to flinch.

Obliged to Michael Hewlett and The Assembly for the details. Subscribe to The Assembly!

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