Not just pruning back the branch, they're trying to break it off:
Republicans haven’t hidden their displeasure with what they call judicial activism. Last February, Senate Leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore lashed out at three state judges who sided with Democratic Governor Roy Cooper in a dispute over his appointment powers. “If these three men want to make laws, they should hang up their robes and run for a legislative seat,” the duo said in a statement.
“They have firebombed the courthouses across the state, creating chaos, and I think it’s all to gain partisan advantage,” says State Representative Marcia Morey, a Democrat who spent almost two decades as a judge. “They have not liked case decisions, and they need to get friendly judges in there.”
And once again, I can't help but see parallels between what the NC GOP is doing, and what authoritarian regimes in other countries do. They purge hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of experienced judges and replace them with unqualified political hacks, so there's nobody left to question their undemocratic behavior. Republicans have been whittling away at NC's judiciary since they took over in 2011, but it looks like 2018 may be when they try to deliver their merciless version of a coup de grâce:
The day lawmakers overrode Cooper’s veto and canceled the primaries, Republican Senator Bill Rabon upped the ante. He introduced a constitutional amendment ending all judicial terms in 2018, effectively nullifying the victories of Morgan and others. His proposal would also reduce state judges’ terms to two years. (Supreme Court judges currently serve eight-year terms; legislators serve for two years.) Constitutional amendments in North Carolina require voter approval.
Rabon declined an interview request, but one of his colleagues has called the bill a reaction to judicial activism. “If you’re going to act like a legislator,” Republican State Representative David Lewis told public-radio station WUNC, “perhaps you should run like one.”
Rabon’s measure is so over-the-top that many North Carolina state house watchers think that it is designed to force another solution: the abolition of judicial elections altogether. A Senate committee is studying the issue and will likely introduce a constitutional amendment during the January 10 session.
One proposal would authorize legislators to nominate three or more candidates for every vacant seat and would require the governor to choose from the lawmakers’ lists. Though the selection powers would be shared—and a commission would first vet potential candidates—lawmakers could screen out anyone who didn’t share the majority party’s political views.
There are numerous Senate and House Republicans who are complicit in the destruction of NC's democracy. But at the end of the day, this can all be traced back to the poor leadership of Phil Berger. He has the morals and ethics of an egg-sucking weasel, and his behavior has become a template for others in his party to follow.