Republicans file emergency motion to stop statewide judicial primaries after judge's ruling

Republicans file emergency motion to stop statewide judicial primaries after judge's ruling

RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - Attorneys for Republicans State Senate Pro Tem Phil Berger (Rockingham) and State House Speaker Tim Moore (Cleveland) filed an emergency motion with the Court of Appeals late Wednesday afternoon seeking to stay a ruling handed down by a lower court judge late last week that would require primaries to be held in the 2018 statewide judicial races.

United States District Court Judge Catherine Eagles ruled on Friday that primaries must be held in races for North Carolina Court of Appeals and North Carolina Supreme Court. Eagles' ruling found that a law passed by Republicans last year abolishing all judicial primaries could stand for judges in the state's lower courts.

The lawsuit was originally brought by the North Carolina Democratic Party and affiliated county party committees in the wake of the bill abolishing judicial primaries last year.

The motion filed on behalf of Berger and Moore late Wednesday afternoon asked a panel of appeals court judges to stay Eagle's decision, which, if granted, would effectively mean there would not be primaries in any judicial race in 2018.

"The Act is a constitutional exercise of the State's broad power to regulate its elections," attorneys for Berger and Moore wrote. "While the Democratic Party may disagree with the policy determination made by the State to eliminate primaries, they have no protected constitutional right to such a primary."

Republicans' court action came less than two hours after State Representative David Lewis (R-Harnett) held a press conference to criticize Democrats for filing new action in state court challenging the legality of five state legislative districts that had been temporarily upheld by the United States Supreme Court in a ruling issued Tuesday.

The emergency motion filed with the appeals court asks for the judges to issue an expedited ruling on whether the lower court decision regarding the judicial primaries should be stayed. Democrats have until Thursday afternoon to respond to the emergency motion.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.