North Carolina Democratic Governor Roy Cooper announced the appointment of Judge Mark Davis to the state’s supreme court this week.
“Right now I’m the most excited human being in the state of North Carolina to be able to join the Supreme Court,” said Judge Davis during the announcement at the Executive Mansion.
“This is truly the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me, and I feel like I have been preparing for this moment for my entire professional career,” Davis said.
“I know Judge Davis is dedicated to his work and to serving the people of North Carolina, and I know he will continue to serve with distinction as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” said Gov. Cooper. More on the announcement here: https://t.co/3gS1oKapfb pic.twitter.com/mPQGZyNhoC
— Governor Roy Cooper (@NC_Governor) March 11, 2019
“I know Judge Davis is dedicated to his work and to serving the people of North Carolina, and I know he will continue to serve with distinction as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” said Governor Cooper in a statement.
The appointment of Davis keeps the state supreme court overwhelmingly partisan with six Democrats and one Republican. The maintaining of a hyperpartisan court is a fact that was not lost on Senate Pro Tem, Phil Berger.
“It seems that Governor Cooper’s primary criteria for appointing judges is their political affiliation,” said Senator Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) in a press release.
“For years, Governor Cooper has called for a nonpartisan judiciary and partisan balance to government. By expanding the Democratic supermajority on the Supreme Court, he has shown that it was just empty rhetoric. Governor Cooper is the hyper-partisan he has long condemned,” Berger said.
Davis, a Democrat, has been tapped to fill the seat left open by Cheri Beasley, who Cooper moved Beasley to the Chief Justice role due to the departure of Mark Martin.
In January, North Carolina Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Mark Martin, a Republican, stepped down to become a dean at a law school in Virginia.
Governor Cooper announced the appointment of Associate Justice Cheri Beasley to the Chief Justice Role in February. Her swearing-in ceremony took place on March 7th.
In elevating a black female associate justice from his own party, Cooper ignored two more experienced members of the court. Senior Associate Justice Paul Newby would have been the heir apparent and is the only other Republican on the court. Cooper also passed over Associate Justice Robin Hudson, who is also a Democrat.
Davis is no stranger to appointments involving Beasley. He was appointed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals by former Governor Beverly Perdue after she elevated Beasley to the Supreme Court in 2012.
Davis worked for Cooper as a Special Deputy Attorney General at the North Carolina Department of Justice for five years from 2006 to 2011. He was also General Counsel for former Governor Perdue from 2011-2012.
Davis’ sear on the Court of Appeals is an eight-year term which expires in 2022. Governor Cooper will also get to pick Davis’s replacement to the court of appeals and that of retiring Republican Judge Bob Hunter.
Judge Hunter served on the North Carolina Supreme Court for a short time after being appointed by Republican Governor Pat McCrory in 2014 to succeed Mark Martin, who had been picked by McCrory to become chief justice. Later that year, Hunter ran for the seat but was defeated in the election by Sam Ervin.
After the election, McCrory appointed Hunter back to the North Carolina Court of Appeals He was elected again in 2016 to a term that expires on December 31, 2024, however, Judge Hunter meets the age required by state law for retirement at the end of March.
Earlier this month, Governor Cooper signed Senate Bill 75, which repeals a law that would have reduced the court from 15 judges to 12 and would have eliminated Hunter’s seat due to the retirement.
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A.P. Dillon is the North Carolina Bureau Chief for The Tennesee Star and a reporter at Battleground State News. Follow A.P. Dillon on Twitter. Email Tips to [email protected].
Photo “Roy Cooper” by Roy Cooper.