Anita Earls on High Court Candidacy: “I Restore Faith in Our Courts” A Call to Colors Exclusiveby Cash Michaels, Contributing Writer August 16, 2018
Until she decided to run for public office, Attorney Anita Earls was the Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, “a North Carolina based civil rights nonprofit that partners with communities of color and economically disadvantaged communities in the South to defend and advance their political, social and economic rights.”
Indeed, her legal pedigree was molded by working alongside such legendary civil rights litigators as the late Julius Chambers, and Charlotte Attorney James Ferguson. And for thirty years, she devoted her legal career to representing “…people whose voices were not being heard in our system of justice.”
Attorney Earls’ commitment and her credentials, include fighting for the “least of these.” Her recent victories include challenging North Carolina’s racially gerrymandered voting districts.
But now Attorney Earls wants to use her legal acumen, not to fight, but to heal, to “…restore people’s faith that the courts will apply the law equally.”
Anita Earls is the Democratic candidate for the North Carolina Supreme Court, seeking to unseat Republican incumbent Barbara Jackson in the November 6 midterm elections.
“What I’ve seen most recently since the 2010 election is how having excellent trial attorneys and appellate advocates isn’t getting us where we need to be if we have courts that are not willing to be fair and impartial,” she told GDN in a phone interview recently.
“And so, it was more a matter that I felt the need to move into this new role because of the threats to the impartiality to our courts and this experience of, particularly in the redistricting cases, seeing the court not willing to apply the law fairly, Earls continued.”
“I never expected to be a candidate. I’m not a typical candidate. I don’t come from a wealthy background. It’s a challenge to be a full-time candidate and not have much income for a year, but I just really felt like our system was at risk and that state courts really matter a lot.”
And make no mistake, the dramatic change in Washington after the 2016 presidential election, and the fact the President Trump will ultimately have had at least two vacancies on the US Supreme Court to fill before his term is up, played a key role in her “…hard decision to run.”
“…[I]n some environments, the federal courts can be the most receptive to civil rights claims, [but] we also have really important protections in our state Constitution… important rights of everyone being protected that needed to be vindicated, she said.”
Earls also served on the North Carolina Board of Elections. She has taught at Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and the University of Maryland.
According to Earls’ campaign bio, “…She litigated North Carolina’s landmark case against racial gerrymandering in legislative districts, Covington v. N.C., she was lead counsel for the League of Women Voters in the trial recently against the partisan gerrymandering of North Carolina’s congressional districts, and led the challenge in state court to uphold the right to vote in North Carolina’s constitution even for people without a photo ID.”
“Anita has spent her life fighting for the rights of African-Americans across North Carolina, beating back racial gerrymanders and racist voter ID laws to ensure that every North Carolinian – regardless of color or background – has equal rights and opportunity,” said Linda Wilkins-Daniels, President of the African-American Caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party. “I am proud to support her candidacy for the North Carolina Supreme Court and look forward to her continuing to fight for equality and justice across our state.”
Attorney Earls also faces another Republican candidate for the state High Court seat currently occupied by Associate Justice Barbara Jackson, but there has been controversy because that third candidate, Republican Chris Anglin, changed his registration from Democrat to Republican right before filing.
State Republicans cried foul, even though GOP lawmaker passed a measure ensuring that Earls name would be last on the ballot in November, and Jackson’s name first.
“I think the General Assembly has been playing games with the name order on the ballot, however I don’t think that’s going to get them what they need,” Earls told GDN. “I do think it’s going to be so important for voters to be informed about the candidates.”
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