North Carolina voters will see a primary battle for a seat on the state’s highest court on May 6.
Justice Robin Hudson, a Democrat who has served on the North Carolina Supreme Court for more than seven years, faces two Republican opponents, Eric Levinson and Jeanette Doran, on the 2014 primary ballot.
Four seats on the state supreme court are up for reelection but the race for Hudson’s seat is the only one featuring a primary show-off, where the pool of three candidates will be whittled to two.
Judicial races are nonpartisan. Hudson said political affiliation has nothing to do with cases the court hears.
“The most important qualifications are experience and the ability to be fair and even-handed,” Hudson said during an April 28 phone interview, citing a 38-year legal career that includes 13 years of experience as an appellate judge.
“I’ve handled pretty much every kind of case the Supreme Court would ever see, either as a lawyer or a judge or both,” Hudson said.
Levinson began his judicial career as a district and family court judge before winning a seat on the North Carolina Court of Appeals in 2002.
Following an unsuccessful 2006 campaign for election to the N.C. Supreme Court, Levinson resigned from the Court of Appeals in 2007 to accept a position as Justice Attaché in Baghdad for the U.S. Department of Justice. Levinson was appointed in 2009 to his current position on the N.C. Superior Court by former governor Beverly Perdue.
“No other candidate offers my combination of experience. … I am the only candidate who has seen firsthand [as a result of my work overseas] what it means for people not to receive their liberties,” Levinson said during an April 30 phone interview.
Doran said she was motivated to run for office because she saw a need for justices with a strong background in the state’s constitution.
Doran worked as an attorney in the Office of the Federal Public Defender and at the North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law, where she served as executive director.
“That’s what I did for the bulk of my career,” Doran said during an April 30 phone interview. “[At the institute] we tried to enforce constitutional limitations on government. … We also tried to work with local and state-level officials to educate them about the requirements of the state constitution.”
Following a December 2013 appointment by Gov. Pat McCrory, Doran chairs the three-person board of review that hears appeals advancing from the Lower Appeals Department of the N.C. Division of Employment Security.