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LIGHTNING RECOMMENDS: Judges Bryant, Newby for top courts

NC Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby NC Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby

The Lightning recommends voters re-elect two judges for higher courts who have a proven record on behalf of the First Amendment and the public's right to know.

Given the stubborn institutional resistance in the North Carolina Legislature to meaningful public access to the public's business, our appeals courts are the last rampart defending what First Amendment attorney John Bussian describes as the guidepost for deciding public records cases: "When in doubt about the meaning of the language in the state Public Records Law, the benefit is to be given to the public. In other words, any uncertainty about the meaning and application of the public records and open meetings law must be resolved in favor of public access to government."
Two candidates with proven records in this arena deserve re-election: Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby and appeals court Judge Wanda Bryant.
Bryant, who ran the "sunshine office" for the state attorney general, has been a crusader for open records and open government. She understands that openness is the foundation for effective and accountable governance.
Justice Newby has a distinguished record of helping newspapers and citizens unlock secrets on government spending, whether it's a public hospital's purchase of physician practices or the state treasurer's public pension investment practices. "As a general rule, the legislature intended the public to have liberal access to public records," Newby wrote. It's a pronouncement that would not be noteworthy in a state with a proven commitment to openness. In North Carolina, it was a welcome declaration of what we believe should be obvious up and down the judiciary.
Among the up-ballot state races, none are as crucial as the higher court contests when it comes to protecting the public's right to know. The Hendersonville Lightning strongly recommends voters re-elect Newby and Bryant to preserve that right.