North Carolina’s Republican-dominated General Assembly has made a number of changes to the way judges are elected in the state, with many more proposals under current consideration. They include making races partisan and changes to district lines and term lengths, even eliminating some vacancies and proposals to do away with elections for judges altogether. Former state Supreme Court justice Robert Orr, a Republican, is no fan of the changes. He spoke with BPR’s Jeremy Loeb about the proposals and about the state of the Republican party under President Donald Trump.
Orr told BPR the legislature's moves regarding the courts threaten the independence of the judiciary.
“We’ve seen the legislature either enacting or proposing a variety of changes, that I think the only fair assessment would be, to make the court system and judges more inclined to the legislature’s positions than contrary to them.”
Regarding President Donald Trump, Orr was an early critic and says Trump's only gotten worse.
"Are there any characteristics or qualities of Donald Trump that I would want my children or grandchildren to emulate, and the truth is I can't think of a single one, which is a pretty sad commentary on the state of things."
So what's a Republican to do?
Orr doesn't have a specific answer, calling that "one of the biggest questions out there... These are very difficult time for those of us who I describe as mountain Republicans."
Orr is also representing the craft beer industry in its legal challenge against wholesale distributors over the 25,000 barrel cap brewers can produce before being forced to enter into a distribution contract. He said the lawsuit is in the early stages but thinks craft brewers have strong legal and constitutional ground to stand on.
The full conversation with Robert Orr is above. A shorter version that aired is below.