NC Supreme Court

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Anita Earls

NC Supreme Court

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2018 Result: Earls wins Supreme Court seat with 49.8% of the vote in a 3-way race

Anita Earls is a Democrat seeking a seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court -- an extremely important position in a state where Republicans have sought to block Democratic policies at every step. North Carolina is also likely to add at least one Congressional seat in the next decade, which puts even more importance on the role of the courts in the 2021 redistricting process.

Democrats currently hold a narrow 4-3 majority on the State Supreme Court, which is a crucial check on a Republican supermajority legislature that has passed multiple measures to strip Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of his power and authority since winning election in 2016. Earls is running against incumbent Republican Barbara Jackson, an associate justice on the Supreme Court.

Earls has played a prominent role in some of North Carolina's most important cases in recent years. She was the lead attorney in North Carolina v. Covington, in which the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously affirmed that the state's legislative maps were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. Earls was also a lead attorney representing the League of Women Voters in a partisan gerrymandering case involving North Carolina's Congressional district maps; and she led a challenge in state court to uphold the right to vote without a photo ID.

Earls currently teaches attorneys in the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Training Institute after three decades of work as a Civil Rights attorney and advocate. Earls is the Founder and Executive Director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice; a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the Clinton administration; the former Director of the Voting Rights Project with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; and a Civil Rights attorney at North Carolina’s first integrated law firm. She is the recipient of the NAACP’s Civil Rights Champion award (2011) and the NC Justice Center’s Defenders of Justice award (2017).

Earls received her undergraduate degree from Williams College and her JD from Yale Law School. She has taught at the University of Maryland, the University of North Carolina, and Duke University.

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State Supreme Court (officially nonpartisan elections)

2016: R+8.94


2016: R+3.66

2012: R+2.04

2008: D+0.32



In 2016, the most expensive judicial race in the country was for a seat on the State Supreme Court in North Carolina. Earlier this year, North Carolina Republicans passed a law intended to weaken Earls' candidacy by placing her name last on the ballot (her name would have appeared first under prior rules; decades of voting results suggest that the first name on the ballot in any race has a slight but not insignificant advantage).

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