Justice Newby faces challenger this November
By Ty Johnson
Published in News on July 25, 2012 2:09 PM
State Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby was in Goldsboro on Tuesday, campaigning for re-election to a second eight-year term on the state's highest court.
Newby spoke at a meeting of the Goldsboro Rotary Club and addressed the fact that in most elections, judicial races draw little attention.
But the election is important to North Carolinians, Newby said, given the court's power.
Newby is being opposed by challenger Sam Ervin IV, a member of the state Court of Appeals and the grandson of Sen. Sam Ervin, who presided over the Watergate hearings that led to the downfall of then-President Richard Nixon.
Newby did not mention his opponent by name, but given the fact that few people take the time to study the candidates' qualifications in judicial races, it could pose a problem for him in November.
"I simply follow the law," Newby said when asked why he feels he should serve an additional term.
He noted that he has been endorsed by four former justices -- two Republicans and two Democrats -- and that he values consistency, predictability and common sense in his interpretations of the law.
Newby noted that he has written more opinions than any of his colleagues during his tenure and said he believes the specific words chosen by those who write the court's opinions are crucial.
"Words have meaning and intent," he said.
Newby said he is a firm believer in judicial re-straint. If society changes so that it affects the meaning or relevancy of a law, it should be left up to the Legislature to change it, not the courts, he said.
As an analogy, he used an example of a home being built. If a contractor agrees to build a house for a certain price, but then asks for more money at the completion of the project, citing changes in markets and labor costs, the customer would likely cry foul. He said that the state Constitution and statues are the same as the original agreement between the two parties and that changes in society since the law's ratification should be disregarded by the court.
Newby also noted his participation in helping recover the original copy of the state Bill of Rights back to North Carolina after it was stolen more than a century ago by a Union soldier at the end of the Civil War. Prior to becoming a member of the high court, he helped arrange a sting operation by state and federal officials that led to the return of the document to Raleigh.
Newby, 57, is an Asheboro native. He received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and his law degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is active with the North Carolina Bar Association and the North Carolina Courts Commission and is an adjunct law professor at Campbell University.