Justice Newby tips his hand

From an editorial in The (Fayetteville) Observer on Wednesday:

We hear a lot about judicial activism these days, but we don’t often see it. In most cases, judges on the appellate level hear arguments, interpret the law and issue a ruling. They do their job, deciding how the Constitution and law apply to situations our Founders couldn’t possibly foresee.

Judges seldom drop hints. They follow a tight code that generally prevents them from taking a stand on the issues of the day, because those issues are likely to show up in their courtroom someday, especially at appellate levels.

But last week, we saw a rare deviation from that norm, a surprising revelation by a North Carolina Supreme Court justice who attended a Fayetteville rally supporting controversial House Bill 2.

Justice Paul Newby was a guest speaker at the rally – “Heart & Soul: A Night of Prayer and Worship.” What he had to say may haunt him in future cases before his court. While the 61-year-old justice, who is in his second term, didn’t specifically endorse HB2, he alluded to it, recounting meetings with pastors from California and Maine who said they are praying for North Carolina to uphold the law. He added: “Let me tell you as a judge, our religious liberties are hanging by a thread.”

Judge Newby just tipped his hand forevermore. There may be some recusal requests and other problems in his future.