Aug. 31, 2023 – The League of Women Voters of North Carolina is dismayed by the allegations revealed in North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls’ recent lawsuit against the Judicial Standards Commission for violating her First Amendment Rights.
In the lawsuit, filed this week, Justice Earls stated that the Commission launched an investigation against her for comments she made in an interview about diversity on the North Carolina Supreme Court and those who argue before it. The investigation could result in discipline for Justice Earls or her removal from office.
The ethics rule in question states that judges should conduct themselves “at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
In the interview, Justice Earls – the only Black female member of the Court – cited issues including a lack of minority judicial clerks, the constant interruption of female advocates as well as herself during oral arguments, and the discontinuance of implicit bias training in North Carolina courts.
This investigation appears to be a politically-charged attempt to silence a sitting justice, and it is a threat to any free speech that does not align with the views of those who wield power and control.
The issues of race and gender – in our judicial system and in our society as a whole – require and deserve free and open discussion in order for progress to be made.
Justice Earls founded the Southern Coalition for Social Justice – an organization with which we proudly partner – and formerly served as the organization’s inaugural executive director. She was elected in 2018, having earned 1.8 million votes.
We stand with Justice Earls.