North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson not seeking reelection

Published 5:01 pm Thursday, December 2, 2021

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By Gary D. Robertson, Associated Press

North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Robin Hudson announced on Wednesday that she won’t seek reelection next year, citing mandatory age limits that would significantly curtail her service if she won.

State law requires North Carolina judges and justices to retire at the end of the month in which they turn 72. Hudson turns 70 in February. Supreme Court terms last eight years.

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“It doesn’t make sense to spend more than a year running in order to serve only 13 months of a new term,” Hudson said in a news release. “It also wouldn’t be fair to my family, my colleagues and supporters to raise money and campaign under these circumstances. I would much prefer to spend my time devoted to the work of the court, without the distraction that a re-election effort requires.”

Hudson, a registered Democrat, is currently the senior associate justice, with her length of service on the state’s highest court second only to that of Chief Justice Paul Newby, a Republican.

She served on the intermediate Court of Appeals for six years before her 2006 election to the Supreme Court. She is among only a handful of women who have ever served there.

Hudson authored a 2016 opinion striking down North Carolina’s then-cyberbullying law as violating free speech rights. In February, she wrote the lead opinion stating that former Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s campaign could seek monetary damages for a television ad run by a group backing his opponent in 2012.

Her decision was announced days before candidate filing begins. Two of the court’s seven seats will be up for election next year. Associate Justice Sam Ervin IV, a registered Democrat, said earlier this year he would seek reelection. Supreme Court elections are officially partisan. Democrats currently hold a 4-3 seat advantage.

Court of Appeals Judge Lucy Inman, a Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for Supreme Court in 2020, confirmed on Wednesday her plans to run for Hudson’s seat. Inman, who described Hudson as a mentor, said she had already been preparing for a run but would have reassessed her plan had Hudson agreed to seek reelection instead. A news release from Inman contained endorsements from three former chief justices.

Two other current Court of Appeals members — Judges Richard Dietz and April Wood — already said publicly this year that they would run for the Supreme Court next year. Wood and Dietz are registered Republicans. Wood or Dietz could continue serving the remainder of their eight-year terms at the Court of Appeals if their Supreme Court bids are unsuccessful.