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NC Supreme Court justices plan fundraiser with lawyer who could bring cases before the high court

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NC Supreme Court justices plan fundraiser with lawyer who could bring cases before the high court


The two Democratic justices on the North Carolina Supreme Court plan to speak at a fundraiser Friday with Eric Holder — a lawyer and anti-gerrymandering advocate who has backed multiple high-profile lawsuits in the state, and who could find himself before the state’s high court in the future.

The fundraiser with Holder — who served as U.S. attorney general under former President Barack Obama — shows the high level of interest that national politicians continue to have in who serves on the state’s highest court. Its justices are frequently asked to settle major cases related to elections or the balance of power in this key swing state.

The fundraiser also highlights the delicate balancing act judges in North Carolina must perform in reassuring the public that their political campaigns can remain separate from their judicial rulings.

After leaving office, Holder founded the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. His group has frequently been involved in backing lawsuits against pro-Republican gerrymandering plans, including in North Carolina.

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There’s no indication any of the judges involved in the Holder fundraiser — who include all of the Democratic Party’s nominees for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals — are breaking any laws or ethics rules by attending or benefiting from the fundraiser. Judges from both political parties frequently socialize with and take campaign contributions from lawyers, business members and political activists who could have business before them.

But it leaves them exposed to political attacks from opponents who say the fundraiser is improper.

“It is appalling to see a sitting justice on the NC Supreme Court campaign with Eric Holder,” North Carolina Republican Party spokesman Matt Mercer told WRAL. “Out-of-state radical Democrats want to buy North Carolina’s judiciary.”

North Carolina Democratic Party spokesman Tommy Mattocks said judges didn’t always need to conduct political fundraisers: The Democratic-led state legislature in the early 2000s passed an ethics reform that gave public funding to judicial candidates who agreed not to take other campaign donations.

But that law no longer exists. Republicans repealed it after taking control of the state legislature a decade later.

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“The Republicans made it necessary to raise private funding since this repeal,” Mattocks said. “And they’re using this same system, too. Just last year, Chief Justice [Paul] Newby raffled off guns for a fundraiser. The GOP’s hypocrisy on campaign finance is galling and voters will not fall for it.”

Big money, high stakes

Holder endorsed Justice Anita Earls when she won in 2018, unseating an incumbent Republican justice. And this week, ahead of the fundraiser in Charlotte, he endorsed Justice Allison Riggs — the court’s other Democratic member. Riggs is running to keep her seat in this year’s only Supreme Court race on the ballot.

“Justice Riggs has repeatedly demonstrated that she evaluates cases before her with thoughtfulness, compassion, and commitment to legal principle,” Holder said in a statement about the endorsement. “Throughout her career as a tenacious civil rights attorney, she has been a champion of every American’s fundamental rights, including voting rights.”

Newby, the Republican chief justice, declined to comment on the fundraiser. Riggs didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment, and Earls deferred any comment to the North Carolina Democratic Party.

“All of our Democratic judicial candidates value representative democracy and equal access to the ballot box,” said Mattocks, the party spokesman. “While none of our candidates can say how they will rule on future cases, they value fair maps where voters pick their politicians, not the other way around.”

A victory for Riggs would keep alive Democrats’ hopes of being able to flip back control of the state’s highest court before the next scheduled round of redistricting, in 2030. Seeking to unseat her is Republican challenger Jefferson Griffin, a former colleague on the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

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Republicans won every statewide judicial race in 2020 and 2022.

“North Carolina voters have spoken over the past two election cycles: this is a state that wants conservative, consistent, and fair judges,” said Mercer, the GOP spokesman.

As of mid-February, the most recent data available, Griffin had raised $900,000 for his campaign — twice as much as Riggs. Their respective political parties and a variety of other outside groups are also likely to spend millions more on their contest this year.

In 2018 when Earls was running for a seat on the court, a political action committee affiliated with Holder’s group gave $250,000 to the N.C. Democratic Party. The PAC hadn’t made any contributions to any North Carolina groups or candidates for the 2024 elections as of mid-February.

The practice of judges benefiting from campaign contributions by those who could have business before the court is largely unavoidable, especially for candidates in high-profile statewide elections for the appellate courts. Unlike many other states, North Carolina elects its judges at every level of the court system. And it uses partisan elections with party labels to do so.

Supporters say that helps educate voters. Critics say it leads to the election of judges who are more beholden to political parties and donors — particularly after the 2013 repeal of public funding for judicial candidates that opened up political spending on judicial races.

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Judicial races focused on redistricting

The theme of the fundraiser is “the importance of our courts ahead of the next scheduled round of redistricting.”

The list of co-hosts includes numerous Democratic state lawmakers who stand to gain more power at the legislature if Democrats were to regain control of the courts and crack down on maps drawn by GOP lawmakers.

Analyses of the voting maps that will be used in this year’s elections and throughout the rest of the decade show that even if most voters in North Carolina vote for Democrats to represent them, Republicans are nevertheless highly likely to keep control of the state legislature — and gain control of most of the state’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

When the Supreme Court was under Democratic control, justices ruled that similarly skewed maps were unconstitutional for essentially pre-determining the outcomes and undermining popular will.

But after the court flipped to Republican control in 2022, that new majority immediately moved to undo that precedent and allow GOP lawmakers to once again skew the maps for political gain. Each ruling came down entirely along party lines.

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Recent elections for the North Carolina Supreme Court have seen tens of millions of dollars pour into the races, largely from out-of-state political groups who saw that controlling the courts in swing states, like North Carolina, could also go a long way toward controlling the U.S. House of Representatives.

Republicans flipped the court in 2022 after the Republican State Leadership Committee — a Washington, D.C.-based group focused on winning control of state legislatures — funneled millions of dollars into attack ads painting Democratic incumbents on the Supreme Court as soft on crime. It worked. With Republicans now in control of the court and the no-gerrymandering precedent undone, Republicans appear likely to win at least a majority if not a veto-proof supermajority at the state legislature — and to flip multiple U.S. House seats held by Democrats..

North Carolina’s 14-member delegation to the U.S. House is expected to go from an even 7-7 split between the two parties to, after this year’s election, either a 10-4 or 11-3 GOP advantage.



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North Carolina

Raleigh dance instructor linked to sex crimes at studios throughout NC arrested

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Raleigh dance instructor linked to sex crimes at studios throughout NC arrested


A woman linked to numerous dance studios across the state, including one in Raleigh, was arrested in Raleigh for charges of indecent liberties with a minor.

A New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office investigation connected Elissa Susan Edwards to allegations of misconduct with students from several dance studios across North Carolina.

Edwards worked as a dance instructor at CC & Co. Dance Complex in Raleigh. Following the arrest, the company notified families Edwards is no longer an employee there.

Edwards, 41, was taken into custody on Thursday in Raleigh and transported to the New Hanover County Detention Center with no bond.

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A CC & Co. spokesperson provided WRAL News with a statement on the matter.

The safety of our dancers and their families is of the utmost importance to CC & Co Dance Complex. That’s why we thoroughly vet all employees, include conducting criminal background checks.

Thursday we learned about the arrest of our former employee, Elissa Edwards. We have not been contacted by law enforcement, but if we are, we will fully cooperate with authorities.

Edwards is the second CC & Co. employee to be accused of child sex crimes this summer. In June, Wake County Deputies charged 33-year-old Justin McKoy with multiple counts of child sex abuse. In that case, warrants indicated McKoy did not know the children from his work with the dance company.

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office is urging anyone with additional information or who may have been a victim to come forward. Victims and witnesses can contact Det. Starnes at 910-798-4287.

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Biden-Harris campaign ad on Black maternal health and abortion rights to run in NC • NC Newsline

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Biden-Harris campaign ad on Black maternal health and abortion rights to run in NC • NC Newsline


The Biden-Harris campaign is running an ad in Raleigh, Charlotte, and five other cities focused on Black maternal health and reproductive rights. 

The ad features an Atlanta women’s health nurse practitioner, Shawana Moore, who says “Overturning Roe was just the beginning.”

The ad is running in a seven cities in five battleground states with a focus on reaching voters of color, according to the campaign. 

“I think there’s fear and uncertainty,” Moore says in the ad. “My heart ached for patients needing care.”

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Black women are more than three times more likely to die of pregnancy-related causes than white women, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Abortion bans and restrictions are predicted to hit Black women hardest by increasing the mortality gap and exacerbating the problem of maternity care deserts

Black women in the NC Senate argued during last year’s debate over North Carolina’s 12-week ban that the law will increase the death rate for pregnant Black women in the state. 

A University of Colorado research calculated that a nationwide abortion ban would result in an overall 21% increase in maternal mortality, and increase Black maternal deaths by 33%. 

A national survey of OBGYNs conducted by KFF last year found that 64% believed that the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade worsened pregnancy-related deaths, 70% believed it made racial and ethnic inequalities worse, and 55% believed it made it harder to attract new OBGYNs to the field.

The Biden-Harris campaign has made abortion rights a central issue. Former President Donald Trump has bragged about overturning Roe v. Wade, while voters in six states, including Republican states, have approved constitutional amendments favoring abortion access, according to KFF. 

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Democrats this week have zeroed in on GOP vice presidential nominee J.D. Vance’s comments on abortion. 

When Vance was running for Senate in 2022, he said he supported a national abortion ban, CNN reported. In a 2023 post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Vance equated abortion to murder. 

Last year, Vance told the US Department of Justice in a letter to enforce the Comstock Act to stop the mailing of abortion pills, the Washington Post reported.

More recently, Vance has expressed different views. He told NBC News in a Meet the Press interview earlier this month that he supported the Supreme Court opinion allowing continued access to abortion pills and Trump’s position that abortion laws should be left to the states.

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In Fayetteville, Harris warns Trump will usher in a period of “chaos, fear and hate” • NC Newsline

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In Fayetteville, Harris warns Trump will usher in a period of “chaos, fear and hate” • NC Newsline


An upbeat Vice President Kamala Harris delivered a forceful speech in Fayetteville on Thursday, even as President Joe Biden struggles to assuage concerns among Democrats about his fitness and ability to defeat Donald Trump in the fall election.   

This marks the vice president’s 15th trip to North Carolina, a crucial battleground state where Democrats are intensifying efforts to win.  

In her address to a crowd of several hundred at Westover High School, Harris laid out a stark choice for the nation’s future.  

“The question we face is what kind of country do we want to live in,” Harris said. “Do we want to live in a country of freedom, compassion and rule of law? Or a country of chaos, fear and hate? We each have the power to answer this question.” 

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Her visit came a day after President Biden tested positive for COVID-19. The White House said on Thursday that the president is experiencing mild symptoms. 

At the rally, some expressed concern that it was too late to replace Biden, but after hearing her speech, many felt reassured that Harris could effectively step into his place if necessary.   

“I think she could if she had to step in tomorrow, that she could do the job,” said Marvin Keller, a retired veteran and former school counselor. “But I am concerned because it’s so late in the political year, and the election is like 110 days away, that will make a big difference in trying to get whoever will replace President Biden get his face out there and to resonate with the public.” 

Others echoed the same sentiment.  

Franklin County resident Jesse Goslen, who is running for North Carolina House District 7, said Vice President Kamala Harris’ speech reassured him that she could take over if President Biden steps down as the Democratic nominee.   

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“I think if he does decide to step aside, she’s the obvious person to take the reins,” said Goslen. “I kind of just wanted to see her in person and see how she does. I thought it was a good, I thought she did great, I think she could step up to the plate, if that’s what Biden decides.”  

Harris’s speech in Fayetteville came as Trump prepared to deliver a speech Thursday at the Republican National Convention, formally accepting the party’s nomination.  

In a statement, the GOP dismissed the Thursday event.  

“Republicans from across the country stand united behind President Trump in Milwaukee, while Democrats in North Carolina don’t even know if Kamala Harris will be their party’s nominee for Vice President or President,” North Carolina GOP spokesman Matt Mercer said. “There should be lots of questions for her in Fayetteville today about her party’s effort to drive their sitting presidential nominee from the ballot.” 

Harris used part of her talk to criticize GOP vice presidential nominee, Senator J.D. Vance, by linking him to the controversial Heritage Foundation agenda known as Project 2025. “He talked about his life story about growing up in southwest Ohio and it was compelling,” Harris said of Vance’s speech at the convention in Milwaukee.

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“What is very telling is what he did not talk about on that stage. He did not talk about Project 2025…[a] 900 Page blueprint for a second Trump term. He did not talk about it, because their plans are extreme, and they are divisive.”    

Project 2025 proposes significant overhauls to the federal workforce, an expansion of presidential power, and a range of conservative policy priorities. These include plans for a mass deportation operation, widespread tariffs on imported goods, and revocation of FDA approval for mifepristone, an abortion medication.

Though the plan was crafted by a group that included numerous former staffers from his first administration, Trump recently denied any connection to Project 2025, writing on his social media platform Truth Social last week that he knows ‘nothing’ about the plan. 

“I have no idea who is behind it,” Trump wrote. “I disagree with some of the things they’re saying and some of the things they’re saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck, but I have nothing to do with them.” 

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