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The Latest: Judge hears case on canceled judicial primary

January 24, 2018

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on a federal judge hearing arguments over a North Carolina law that canceled judicial primaries for this year (all times local):

1:30 p.m.

Lawyers for the Democratic Party in North Carolina say Republican legislators have taken away their right to decide who their favored judicial candidates will be this year by passing a law canceling primary elections for trial and appellate court judgeships.

The attorneys made the argument Wednesday in a Greensboro federal courtroom on their request to block the law’s enforcement and reinstate the primary for May.

Lawyers for the state and GOP legislators told U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles that the judicial primary cancellation is legal and Democratic Party members still have their constitutional right to associate and choose the candidate they want to back through other means.

Eagles didn’t immediately rule after close to three hours of arguments. Unless Eagles grants the Democrats’ request, the law directs judicial candidate filing be held in June with elections in November.

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3 a.m.

Efforts to block a new North Carolina law canceling primary elections this year for state trial and appeals court seats are coming before a federal judge.

The Republican-controlled General Assembly approved the law three months ago, but the Democratic Party sued, saying it would violate the party’s right to associate and select favored candidates.

At a court hearing Wednesday in Greensboro, U.S. District Judge Catherine Eagles plans to hear arguments on the Democrats’ request to restore the primary for May while the lawsuit goes to trial.

Lawyers for GOP legislators say there’s no constitutional obligation to hold primary elections, and Democrats still can organize and endorse candidates without them. Legislative leaders have said the cancellation was designed to lessen confusion as they debate whether to soon redraw judicial election districts.

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