From an editorial Thursday in the (Greensboro) News & Record:
The N.C. Supreme Court will decide sooner rather than later whether school vouchers violate the state constitution.
The court last week announced it will hear an appeal of the August ruling by Judge Robert Hobgood that stopped payments under the Opportunity Scholarship program enacted by the General Assembly.
Normally, the case would go next to the Court of Appeals, then to the Supreme Court. The justices put it on a faster track.
They took the same action in four other cases. One involves the sale of N.C. State University’s Hofmann Forest. Another is an appeal by Duke Energy of a lower court’s order that it clean up contaminated groundwater near coal ash ponds.
The court, under newly appointed Chief Justice Mark Martin, seems to be more aggressively increasing its workload – a change that some court watchers say is long overdue.The court’s output, measured by the number of full opinions it issues, has been modest in recent years.
The court hears cases from divided panels of the Court of Appeals or on discretionary review when the lower court is unanimous. It is supposed to decide cases that raise significant legal issues, carry great public interest or have divided lower courts.
It also can do what it did last week – but has done very rarely over the years – and cut out the Court of Appeals.