Republican Judge Doug McCullough surprised the entire corrupt North Carolina Republican establishment Monday by deciding to retire early, in protest, to allow Democratic Governor Roy Cooper to appoint his replacement. The Charlotte Observer reports that this comes just days after Gov. Cooper vetoed a Republican bill that is trying to reduce the number of Appeals Court judges down to 12 from 15 in order to take away Gov. Cooper’s ability to appoint upcoming Republican judge vacancies in the court. The craven North Carolina Republican Party continues to work tirelessly to strip the Democratic governor of any and all powers he was elected to execute. Judge Doug McCullough found himself disgusted by his fellow Republican Party’s lack of ethics.
The unexpected retirement announcement – and the quick appointment of Charlotte Democrat John Arrowood to the McCullough seat – came in a brief window of opportunity for Cooper in a power struggle between him and the Republican legislative leaders.
“I did not want my legacy to be the elimination of a seat and the impairment of a court that I have served on,” McCullough said Monday after the announcement.
This comes a couple of months after a three-judge panel slowed down North Carolina Republicans’ attempts to completely destroy the state’s checks and balances by requiring the governor to “seek legislative approval for his cabinet selections.”
“The unprecedented power grab that we saw last December, and the childish reaction to today’s ruling, demonstrates that Republican leadership in the General Assembly is more interested in solidifying their power and playing political games than in actually legislating,” Mike Gwin, a spokesman for the North Carolina Democratic Party, said in a statement.
That statement was as true 10 weeks ago as it is today. Gov. Roy Cooper kept his quick appointment of Judge John Arrowood short and sweet.
“I am deeply appreciative to Judge McCullough for his service to our state and our country,” said Cooper. “I’m proud to appoint Judge Arrowood to fill this vacancy on the Court of Appeals, a court where he has previously served with distinction. His experience as a judge on this court makes him uniquely qualified to hit the ground running and ensure that justice is swiftly delivered.”
Republicans are claiming that the need to shrink the court system is to match a shrinking workload. This diminishing workload is a mirage, law professor Marin K. Levy told the Progressive Pulse.
“The claim that this bill is motivated by workload concerns simply isn’t credible,” said Marin K. Levy, an associate professor of law at Duke Law School.
From Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2016, there were 1,339 appeals filed with the court, 865 petitions and 3,856 motions. During the same period the court disposed of 1,500 appeals (1,366 by written opinion) and 4,456 petitions and motions.
To compare, there were 1,417 appeals filed in 2015, 897 petitions and 3,605 motions. During the same year, the court disposed of 1,176 appeals (1,019 by written opinion) and 4,113 petitions and motions.
In the end, Judge McCullough makes the best and simplest of arguments.
McCullough, while stressing that he was honored to serve on the bench, recalled a time when Gov. Jim Martin, a Republican, was in the executive office and the Democrats at the helm of the General Assembly “did not interfere with his power to make appointments to the judiciary.”
Sen. Phil Berger (pictured at bottom as a balloon stick) had his spokeswoman attack Gov. Cooper for appointing a Democrat to the Court of Appeals.