FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 29, 2023
People’s Parity Project Statement In Support of Justice Anita Earls’s Federal Lawsuit Defending Her First Amendment Rights
Raleigh, NC — Today, North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Anita Earls filed a federal lawsuit to protect her right to free speech under the First Amendment.
Earls is facing the possibility of losing her seat on the state Supreme Court—the seat that 1.8 million voters put her in—just because she spoke out about bias at the pinnacle of North Carolina’s justice system. Her alleged misconduct was discussing the lack of racial diversity among her colleagues’ clerks and their treatment of certain advocates who argued before them. The state’s Judicial Standards Commission, which has been transformed by conservative Republican judges, is alleging that Earls’s concerns about bias could violate a judicial ethics rule that says judges should conduct themselves “at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
In response, Earls filed a federal lawsuit and said that “The First Amendment provides me and every American the right to free speech and to bring to light imperfections and unfairness in our political and judicial systems. I believe that public confidence in the judiciary is best promoted by honestly looking at the facts, not by sweeping the truth under the rug or silencing dissenters.”
Following the filing of this lawsuit, Billy Corriher, People’s Parity Project’s State Courts Manager, issued the following statement:
“Judges have a moral and ethical responsibility to confront unequal treatment and expose bias in the judiciary. Justice Anita Earls did nothing wrong. It’s in everyone’s best interest to root out biases that give people a valid reason to doubt the fairness of the system.
“The Commission argues that Earls can’t suggest that another judge is biased unless she ‘knows this to be the case.’ She needs ‘some quantum of definitive proof’ to avoid violating ethics rules. In other words, she has to either be a mind-reader or have proof that a judge said they intended to discriminate. This is an unrealistic and unworkable standard.
“The charge against Justice Earls is baseless and politically motivated. If the Commission recommends sanctioning Earls, it’s proving itself to be nothing but a pawn in right-wing political games.
“Justice Earls speaks truth to power. And the people in power can’t abide that. Their ‘race blind’ political agenda forbids any acknowledgement of bias in the system. That’s why political appointees at the Judicial Standards Commission want to silence a duly elected justice for speaking out about bias in her courtroom.”
People’s Parity Project is a movement of attorneys and law students organizing for a democratized legal system which values people over profits, builds the power of working people, and opposes subordination of any form. Together, we are dismantling a profession that upholds corporate power and building a legal system that is a force for justice and equity. Our work focuses on building power for working people in the civil legal system through organizing, policy innovation, political education, and solidarity. Learn more: www.peoplesparity.org/