A state Supreme Court candidate on Monday won permission for now from a judge to have his Republican affiliation listed on the November ballots.
Chris Anglin had filed a lawsuit against Republican legislators challenging a recently passed law that had blocked him from listing his party on the upcoming ballot. A Wake County Superior Court judge heard the case Monday and ordered a temporary halt to enforcement of the law, which GOP lawmakers said was needed to prevent Anglin from misleading voters.
The law says a judicial candidate's party affiliation will not be listed beside a candidate's name if a party switch was made less than 90 days before filing for a race. Anglin, who was a registered Democrat three weeks before entering the race as a Republican, said he was deliberately targeted by the law.
Republicans have accused Anglin of trying to split the GOP vote with incumbent Justice Barbara Jackson to help Democratic opponent Anita Earls win.
Superior Court Judge Rebecca Holt ruled that the law presents a danger of irreparable harm to Anglin and also to another lower-court candidate, warranting its suspension. She issued two preliminary injunctions Monday until the candidate's separate lawsuits on the issue can be resolved.
Anglin lauded the decision.
"We showed that their actions were specifically targeted and there was no valid argument they could present that they weren't targeting it at us specifically," Anglin told reporters after the court hearing. "It's crystal clear that they want to make the judiciary a division of the legislature, and that they'll do anything to help their candidate win."
It's unclear if Republican legislative leaders will appeal. Time is running out, since state election officials say ballot questions must be finalized this week for printing.
Anglin and District Court candidate Rebecca Edwards separately sued GOP legislators last week. The candidates said the law violated their constitutional rights and changed election rules in the middle of the election.
House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, both Republicans, said Anglin is trying to interfere with the legislature's right to set election rules.
Monday's "misguided ruling protects Democrats' deliberate effort to split the vote by confusing voters about a candidate's true affiliation," Moore spokesman Joseph Kyzer said in a statement. He added that the legislature has longstanding authority for setting party label rules in elections.
Anglin calls himself a "constitutional Republican" unhappy with other efforts by the General Assembly to diminish judicial independence.
Last week, he turned in paperwork with the state elections board to withdraw from the race if his lawsuit is ultimately unsuccessful, prompting criticism from state Republican leadership. State GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse tweeted that Anglin's actions brought into question the sincerity of Anglin's candidacy as a Republican.
Berger's office echoed that sentiment again Monday.
"Republican or Democrat, 'candidates' shouldn't be able to switch parties at the last minute to split the vote," spokesman Pat Ryan said. "It's a dirty trick that both sides of the aisle have rightfully condemned."