Sharon McCloskey

Sharon McCloskey, former Courts, Law and Democracy Reporter for N.C. Policy Watch, writes about the courts and decisions that impact North Carolina residents. McCloskey also wrote for Lawyers Weekly and practiced law for more than 20 years. Follow her online at or @sharonmccloskey.

First Monday in October

By: - September 30, 2017

The United States Supreme Court opens its new term on Monday, already loaded with blockbuster cases headed for argument in the first several weeks.

Some familiar issues -- voting rights, same-sex marriage, cell phone privacy, employee arbitration -- will all make an appearance early in the term.

State Supreme Court rules retroactive application of teacher tenure repeal is unconstitutional

By: - April 15, 2016

The state Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that the repeal of North Carolina’s teacher tenure law could not be retroactively applied to those teachers who had already achieved that status. “We conclude that repeal of the Career Status Law unlawfully infringes upon the contract rights of those teachers who had already achieved career status,” Justice […]

Run or retain – Justices to decide how they keep their seats

By: - April 13, 2016

Six justices of the state Supreme Court will hear argument this morning in a case that just might determine their own judicial destinies, considering in Faires v. State Board of Elections whether a new law subjecting them to an up-or-down approval vote at the end of their eight-year terms – as opposed to a contested election against a challenger – satisfies the constitutional mandate that justices in North Carolina be “elected.”

SCOTUS rejects challenge to “one person one vote” doctrine applicable in the drawing of state legislative districts

By: - April 4, 2016

Who should states count when tabulating populations for redistricting purposes? In an 8-0 decision written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the U.S. Supreme Court today upheld the “one person one vote” concept applicable in the drawing of legislative districts, holding that constitutional history, precedent, and practice permit a state or locality to draw its legislative districts based on […]

House Bill 2 lands its first challenge; legal scholars examine prejudice, motives behind the anti-LGBT legislation

By: - March 29, 2016

Three state residents and several gay, lesbian and transgender advocacy organizations filed a federal lawsuit early yesterday morning challenging the constitutionality of North Carolina House Bill 2, the hastily-enacted law that not only targets transgender individuals by limiting their use of public restrooms to those corresponding to their birth sex but also preempts all local non-discrimination ordinances.

Legal challenges to House Bill 2 quick to follow

By: - March 24, 2016

At one point during the debate yesterday over HB 2, the bill that essentially rids the state of all non-discrimination ordinances, one conservative lawmaker defended his colleagues’ rush to convene and render the new law as necessary to head off lawsuits — as if they weren’t coming anyway. It may have taken only less than half a […]

Contraceptive mandate at the Supreme Court – again

By: - March 22, 2016

Just weeks after hearing argument over states’ TRAP laws (“targeted regulations against abortion providers”), the U.S. Supreme Court ventures back into the reproductive rights arena tomorrow morning, taking on yet another challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate. The case, Zubik v. Burwell, is an effort to further push the limits of religious liberty already […]

SCOTUS gives class action plaintiffs a break

By: - March 22, 2016

Class action plaintiffs lawyers can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief today as the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in one of several class action cases before the court this term, ruling in Tyson Foods, Inc. v. Bouaphakeo that in certain circumstances representative and statistical evidence can be used to establish classwide […]

Justice Edmunds recuses himself from challenge to retention election law

By: - March 18, 2016

As noted on the order sheet released today by the state Supreme Court, Justice Bob Edmunds has recused himself from taking part in the appeal concerning the new Supreme Court judicial retention election law. Under that law, enacted in October and effective immediately, sitting Supreme Court justices running for re-election would be subjected to an up-or-down vote […]

State Supreme Court denies early review of magistrates’ recusal law challenge

By: - March 18, 2016

In an order today, the state Supreme Court denied a request by two state magistrates, who resigned from their jobs rather than perform same-sex marriages, to bypass the Court of Appeals and directly review a trial court order dismissing their lawsuit against the Administrative Office of the Courts for reappointment and damages. The magistrates, Thomas Holland of […]

Waffling on judicial nominees

By: - March 17, 2016

The President had barely stepped away from the podium yesterday after nominating D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court when Senate Republicans began falling in line with party leaders, saying there would be no hearing or vote on Garland nor any other Obama nominee during the remainder of […]

Greenlighting broadband expansion

By: - March 17, 2016

Appeals court to decide who draws the lines

The city of Wilson prides itself on being North Carolina’s first gigabit city, offering businesses and residents broadband services with speeds 100 times faster than what’s offered elsewhere in the state.