Governor Cooper Facing Criticism After Appointing NC’s First Black Woman Chief Justice


NC Governor Roy Cooper has just appointed our state’s first African-American woman to the position of Chief Justice of North Carolina’s Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Associate Justice Cheri Beasley became a District Court judge in 1999 and was elected to the 15-member intermediate-level Court of Appeals in 2008, and was appointed to the NC Supreme Court Governor Beverly Perdue in 2012. She was elected to a full eight-year term in 2014.

“Chief Justice Mark Martin has admirably served our state for years, and I wish him well in his new role,” said Gov. Cooper in a statement. “Justice Beasley is a well-respected jurist, and I know her to be fair and deeply committed to viewing all North Carolinians equally through the eyes of the law. I appreciate Justice Beasley’s willingness to serve the people of our state in this critical role.”

Governor Cooper’s decision to elevate Justice Beasley to the position of Chief Justice is now facing significant criticism from the right, as Justice Beasley is a registered Democrat, and currently sits 4th in level of seniority on the bench. This will be the second time in over 100 years that a governor elevated an Associate Justice who was not the ‘Senior’ Associate Justice (the only other time being when Republican Gov. Jim Martin elevated Associate Justice Rhoda Billings in 1986 after just 1 year on the court).

Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest (likely running against Cooper in 2020), called Cooper’s decision ‘disappointing’;

Paul Newby currently holds the title of ‘Senior Associate Justice’, having been first elected to the Supreme Court in 2004. Associate Justice Robin Hudson sits in the 3rd level of seniority, having been first elected in 2007;

Beasley’s appointment to Chief Justice will last through the end of 2020, at which point the position will be voted on for the following 8 years. Both Beasley and Newby (a registered Republican) have both stated that they intend to run for the Chief Justice position in 2020.

Justice Cheri Beasley thanked the governor yesterday morning on Twitter for the appointment;

What do you think of Governor Cooper’s decision?