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Delaware's judicial balance case gets its day in U.S. Supreme Court

James Morrison
Delaware Public Media

The new U.S. Supreme Court term opens Monday with Delaware on the docket.  


The nation’s highest court will hear oral arguments in Carney v. Adams - the case involving Delaware’s judicial balance requirement. 


The case was scheduled to be before court last March, but was postponed due to the corinavirus pandemic.


Delaware’s constitution requires some courts – including its Supreme Court and Chancery Court - be split almost evenly between the two major political parties. 

Gov. John Carney and the State of Delaware are asking the Justices to overturn the federal appeals court decision affirming a lower court ruling that the requirement is unconstitutional.  

The case challenging the requirement was brought by James Adams in 2017.  Adams is an independent -who argues the political balance requirement effectively limits service on state courts to Democrats and Republicans, and hurts his chances of becoming a judge.

A number of people and groups filed amicus briefs – including state’s five most recent governors and three former Delaware chief justices.  They all supported the state’s argument that Delaware has a sovereign right to establish qualification for judgeships. They also agree the decision threatens the state’s independent judiciary and perhaps other bipartisan governmental entities.

Monday’s oral arguments will be held by telephone conference with the Justices and counsel all participating remotely.

Tom Byrne has been a fixture covering news in Delaware for nearly three decades. He joined Delaware Public Media in 2010 as our first news director and has guided the news team ever since. When he's not covering the news, he can be found reading history or pursuing his love of all things athletic.
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