The Pulse

Justice Michael Morgan not running for re-election to NC Supreme Court

By: - May 18, 2023 10:45 am

NC Supreme Court (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

Associate Justice Michael Morgan announced on Twitter Thursday morning that he will not run for re-election to retain his seat on the state Supreme Court.

“With the incredibly good fortune to be the only person ever in NC to serve in 4 different judgeships over my 34 years of judicial service, I shall not seek to be reelected in 2024 as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina,” he wrote.

Supreme Court Justice Michael Morgan

Morgan is one of two Democrats on the Republican-dominated high court. Since Republicans picked up two seats in last year’s midterms, flipping the court to a 5-2 Republican majority, the Supreme Court has issued landmark rulings in favor of the GOP on North Carolina’s voter ID law, gerrymandering and felony disenfranchisement.

If Republicans win Morgan’s seat, that would leave Associate Justice Anita Earls as the lone Democrat. After Morgan, Earls is also the next member of the court up for re-election, in 2026. Three Republicans are up for re-election in 2028. (Chief Justice Paul Newby will reach the mandatory retirement age before his term ends and could have to give up his seat in 2027, but a bill pending in the legislature would raise the retirement age for judges and allow him to serve a full term; if it passed, that bill would also have allowed Morgan to serve the majority of another term.)

Morgan grew up in Washington, D.C. before moving to New Bern, North Carolina. He was the first Black student to attend Trent Park Elementary School, and one of five Black students that year who integrated New Bern’s public school system. He was on the legal staff of the state’s Department of Justice after graduating from North Carolina Central University School of Law.

Morgan was appointed as an administrative law judge with the North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings in 1989. There, he administered the oath of office to his father, the first and only African American to serve as the mayor of New Bern.

Gov. Jim Hunt appointed Morgan to be a Wake County District Court Judge in 1994, a post he was subsequently elected to in 1996 and 2000. He was elected to the Superior Court in 2004, then re-elected in 2012. In 2016, he was elected to the Supreme Court, his first statewide race.

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Kelan Lyons
Kelan Lyons

Investigative Reporter Kelan Lyons writes about criminal and civil justice, including high-profile litigation, prison and jail conditions, housing, and the challenges people face when they leave prison.