Gov. Roy Cooper announced on September 11 that he is appointing Allison Riggs to fill the remaining term of North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Michael Morgan, who announced his retirement in late August.
When Cooper appointed Allison Riggs to an open seat on the North Carolina Court of Appeals last year, I wrote that her tenure on the court would likely be “short and unhappy.” Riggs formally took her current position in February of this year, meaning that she has a total of seven months of experience as a judge. Cooper’s decision reveals a lack of depth Democrats have in the judicial branch after they experienced two difficult rounds of judicial elections in 2020 and 2022.
It also reveals a lurch further to the left for Democrats on the state high court. Riggs comes from the left-wing Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ). She spent much of her time there “fighting election laws approved by the Republican-led General Assembly.” Former John Locke Foundation CEO Amy Cooke described Riggs as a “highly partisan left-wing activist.”
Riggs is a protege of Justice Anita Earls, who founded the SCSJ. A motion filed with the Supreme Court in 2022 stated that Riggs was Earls’ “long-time colleague, co-author, and friend.” The two will be the only Democrats on the seven-member court.
She will have to defend the seat in the 2024 election. Earls was the last Democrat to win a Supreme Court race back in 2018, although she could only do so with the help of Chris Anglin, a stalking horse candidate who switched parties and split the Republican vote in that race.
Considering her minority status on the court and the impending 2024 election, Allison Riggs’ tenure on the North Carolina Supreme Court will likely be a short and unhappy one.