Democrat Sam Ervin IV called for Democrats to reject ideologue judges beholden to partisan donors as he blasted a super PAC formed to help his state Supreme Court opponent Paul Newby.
Speaking at the state party convention Saturday, Ervin said election reforms pushed by Democrats a decade ago were designed to "avoid having judges be beholden to big money and instead ensure judges decided cases on the basis of the facts and the law."
Ervin, a N.C. Court of Appeals judge, said he doesn't have "access to the kind of a money a super PAC can provide," leaving him vulnerable to a group of Republicans who "intend to turn the North Carolina courts red."
The remarks are Ervin's first about the N.C. Judicial Coalition, a tax-exempt group supporting Newby, a current Supreme Court justice, that can raise and spend unlimited money to support or oppose candidates.
Wealthy businessman and charter school entrepreneur Bob Luddy is the committee’s chairman. Tom Fetzer, former chairman of the state Republican Party, and I. Beverly Lake, a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, serve on its board of directors.
"I think we should stand up to an important constitutional principle, which is the independence of the judiciary," Ervin said.
Ervin is a candidate with name recognition: He is the grandson of storied U.S. Senate Watergate Committee chairman Sam Ervin. His father was federal judge. He was in private practice, often representing companies fighting electric rate increases before the state Utilities Commission, before being appointed to the commission by Gov. Jim Hunt. He later returned to private practice until he was elected to the appellate court in 2008.