The United States Supreme Court has agreed to weigh in on a case that could significantly alter the makeup of Delaware’s fabled judiciary.
The high court announced that it has added Carney v. Adams to its spring 2020 docket, a case that challenges the constitutionality of Delaware’s politically balanced courts. In the case, litigant James Adams, a retired lawyer, says he is unfairly prohibited from applying for a Delaware judgeship because he is neither registered Republican nor Democrat.
Delaware’s law requiring no more than a “bare majority” of any political party on any court, Adams says, stops non-politically affiliated citizens from seeking seats on state courts. Adams’ suit against Governor John Carney argues his political affiliation should not be a factor in being considered for appointment to the bench.
Earlier this year, the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the Delaware law violated the rights of Adams to determine his political affiliations.
The case could have far-reaching implications for Delaware prestigious judiciary, which has gained international acclaim for its fairness and professionalism. Despite the state’s electoral political balance swinging wildly towards the Democrats in recent years, the courts have continued to be a rare institution marked by impartiality. Supreme Court watchers say the court is likely to hear the case in the spring, making a decision by summer.