Judge won’t toss suit over Delaware court political balance

Legal Events

A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit against Democratic Gov. John Carney over Delaware’s requirement for political balance on its courts.

Friday’s ruling is the latest in a long-running legal battle over a “major-party” provision in Delaware’s constitution under which judicial appointments to the state’s three highest courts are split between Republicans and Democrats.

The Supreme Court, Court of Chancery and Superior Court are subject to a separate “bare majority” provision that also applies to Family Court and the Court of Common Pleas. That provision says no more than a bare majority of judges on those courts can be affiliated with a single political party.

The result of the major-party provision is that any person not affiliated with either the Republican or Democratic Party is unable serve on the Supreme Court, Superior Court or Court of Chancery.

Wilmington lawyer James Adams, a former Democrat who is now an unaffiliated voter, claims that the provision violates his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by barring him from being considered for a judgeship on the Superior Court, a position for which he has twice applied and been rejected.

Judge Maryellen Noreika ruled Friday that Adams had legal standing to challenge the major-party provision and denied the governor’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

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