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Gov. Carney appeals judicial balance ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court

Delaware Public Media

The nation’s highest court could decide whether Delaware’s state courts should have political balance.

Gov. John Carney is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the state’s constitutional requirement that some courts must be split almost evenly between the two major political parties.

The section of the Delaware’s Constitution at issue has been ruled unconstitutional at the district court level and by the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Those decisions in a case brought by James Adams, an independent who argues the political balance requirement limits his chances to be a judge.

The Carney administration continues to argue judges are policymakers, despite the Third Circuit rejecting that argument. The appeals court found Adams lacked standing to challenge the political balance mandate in the Family Court and Court of Common Pleas. 

The appeal comes as Carney considers his choices to replace retiring Chief Justice Leo Strine. A Carney spokesman says he intends to nominate a successor who’s expected to be considered during a November 7th special session of the state Senate.

Carney’s spokesman declined to answer why the governor believed he would prevail in the Supreme Court when lower courts had ruled against him. According to federal government's website about the U.S. Supreme Court, SCOTUS generally hears about 100-150 cases per term out of the more than 7,000 cases it's asked to review each year.

He also did not immediately respond to a request for how much money the Carney administration has spent in legal fees on the case. But the State News reported in March it was nearly $376,000 at that time.

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