Judge campaigns for Supreme Court while presiding over Voter ID case
Morgan blithely ignores judicial ethics as name recognition grows
RALEIGH — We are all aware of media bias these days, particularly with respect to the coming election. But that bias has never been as blatant as the case of Wake Superior Court Judge Mike Morgan.
Not only is Judge Morgan the jurist appointed to hear the arguments in the state Voter ID Law, he is also a candidate for the Supreme Court of North Carolina.
The Raleigh News & Observer has known of this for a very long time but has failed to mention it in numerous stories written about Morgan. Further, Judge Morgan has now scheduled a hearing on this three-year-old voter ID challenge just one month before the early voting begins.
Reporters Anne Blythe of the News & Observer and Gary Robertson of The Associated Press have written many stories — appearing both in print and online. However, widely published articles omit any mention of this very important information. The clear fact is that the results of the Voter ID hearing will have a direct impact on the election in November.
In the case of reporter Blythe, she has written a number of stories on the NC Voter ID case, and Morgan’s role; while also authoring stories on the Supreme Court race and candidate Morgan.
Voter ID has been one of the state’s biggest news stories over the past three years. The reporter’s failure to mention that Morgan is presiding over the state case cannot possibly be construed as mere oversight.
Certainly, in order to write an accurate article, one would think that some type of mention, or reference, would be called for — but apparently not! Also, one would think that a presiding judge (Morgan, in this situation) would recuse himself from such a high-profile case.
As it turns out, Judge Morgan is the challenger to incumbent Justice Bob Edmunds. The election is supposed to be nonpartisan but both candidates are usually identified by political party affiliation in articles such as this. Also, knowing the background of the judge is useful to voters.
It should be noted out that former Chief Justice Sarah Parker assigned Morgan to the Voter ID case but, at the time, Morgan had not yet filed to run for the North Carolina Supreme Court.
However, when he did file – he did not recuse himself. Instead, he scheduled a hearing for Sept. 26 — just six weeks ahead of Election Day and more than three years after the case was first filed.
According to his campaign website, Morgan is a lifetime member of the NAACP, and the organization’s North Carolina chapter is one of the lead plaintiffs in the corresponding federal lawsuit brought against North Carolina’s Voter ID law.
The NAACP has been in the forefront of the political fight against any and all election reforms in North Carolina and in other states as well. Regrettably, Chief Justice Parker apparently did not consider Morgan’s membership before appointing him to the case.
Morgan’s decision to stay on the case even after he filed to run for the only open seat on the North Carolina Supreme Court seems to be a case of political opportunism at best.
For many people, lack of good judgment, arrogance and political activism are not the qualities that most people are looking for in a judge. Coincidentally, Supreme Court Justice Bob Edmunds recused himself from hearing a case about how sitting judges are reelected. With Edmunds recusal, the court’s decision in the case resulted in a 3 to 3 tie. The deadlocked court was a factor leading to the race between Edmunds and Morgan – a result that left many observers concluding that one candidate took the high road while the other did not.