Below is the introduction to my 2013 article, “Removal of Special Superior Court Judges: An Assault on Separation of Powers.” For the full article please click here.
A recent proposal to remove nearly all of the sitting Special Superior Court Judges inspired debate on the constitutionality of the move. Removing judges during the middle of their terms violates the separation of powers clause of the North Carolina Constitution. By removing a judge midterm, the legislature would impede judicial independence and expose judges and the judicial branch to retaliatory legislation. In addition to the separation of powers question, removing a judge from office during his or her term may also violate the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Even though judges do not have a property right in the office, they may have a property interest in the term of office. This paper provides a brief historical overview of these issues.