RALEIGH, N.C. (WGHP) – Michael R. Morgan, one of the two remaining Democrats on the North Carolina Supreme Court, says he won’t seek re-election in 2024.
Morgan, who with Associate Justice Anita Earls is now joined by five Republicans, made the announcement on his Twitter feed earlier today.
“With the incredibly good fortune to be the only person ever in NC to serve in 4 different judgeships over my 34 years of judicial service, I shall not seek to be reelected in 2024 as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina,” he wrote.
Morgan was elected to his 8-year term for Seat 2 in 2016. He finished second to incumbent Robert Edmunds Jr. of Greensboro by about 67,000 votes in the primary but then overtook Edmunds in the General Election, getting 54.47% of nearly 4 million votes cast.
That was the last election for the court before Republicans returned court races to the partisan status they had ended in 2004. Earls was elected in 2018 and is up for re-election in 2026.
After Republican Chief Justice Paul Newby beat incumbent Cheri Beasley by 401 votes in 2020, Republicans took control of the court last November, when Trey Allen defeated incumbent Democrat Sam Ervin IV, and Trey Allen took the seat vacated by the retirement of Democrat Robin Hudson of Greensboro.
Republicans Phil Berger Jr. and Tamara Barringer will join Newby on the ballot in 2028.
“Justice Morgan has had a long and distinguished career, and the Court will miss him in a variety of ways,” former Associate Justice Robert F. Orr told WGHP. “He has been the only member of the Court in recent years to have previously served as a trial judge, and I believe the only Justice ever to have served at all levels of the trial bench – administrative law judge, district court judge and superior court judge. That level of experience will be sorely missed.
“Plus, Justice Morgan could always be counted on for his kind manners, friendly smile and professional demeanor – a trait much appreciated by lawyers appearing before him both at the trial level and at the Supreme Court.”
The court recently took the unusual step of reversing previous decisions by justices to rule that the General Assembly can draw partisan gerrymandered electoral maps and to overrule a lower court’s decision that found the law that led to photo IDs for voters to have been unconstitutional. Morgan wrote the dissent in that decision.
Morgan, a native of New Bern and graduate of Duke and North Carolina Central Law School, worked his way up from Wake County District Court, where he won his first election in 1996, and was a Wake Superior Court judge for two terms before running for the state supreme court.