Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is Theresa Opeka.
North Carolina Court of Appeals Judge Allison Riggs was appointed Monday to the state's Supreme Court by Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper to fill the seat vacated by N.C. Supreme Court Justice Michael Morgan.
Cooper appointed Judge Carolyn Thompson to replace Riggs on the Court of Appeals.
"The need for fair-minded, even-handed, honest, experienced judges is more important than ever as our society and our courts wrestle with many critical issues,"
said Cooper in a press release. "I am grateful for the willingness of Judge Riggs and Judge Thompson to serve our state's judicial system in these new roles. They each have deep experience and admirable careers of public service that will continue to bring value, honor, and integrity to the judicial branch of state government."
Thompson is currently a Deputy Commissioner on the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Previously, she served as a District Court and Superior Court judge in District 9, presiding over civil, criminal, domestic, juvenile, and mental health proceedings.
Morgan, who announced last month that he would be stepping down, is a possible contender on the Democratic ticket for the governor's race in 2024. His single eight-year term on the high court runs through the end of 2024. He had announced in May that he did not plan to run for re-election.
Riggs was appointed by Cooper to the Court of Appeals in December to fill the vacancy left by Judge Richard Dietz, her predecessor and soon-to-be seatmate. Dietz won in November for a seat on the state's Supreme Court.
Before her time on the Court of Appeals, Riggs, who is branded as a left-of-center activist lawyer, served on the Southern Coalition for Social Justice as the co-executive director and chief counsel for voting rights.
That group's founder, Anita Earls, is an associate justice on the state Supreme Court. A motion filed in the state Supreme Court in January 2022 described Riggs as Earls' "long-time colleague, co-author, and friend."
Riggs has spent much of her career fighting election laws approved by the Republican-led General Assembly. She has represented the left-of-center activist group Common Cause in its ongoing legal challenge against state legislative and congressional election maps. Riggs has represented plaintiffs challenging North Carolina's voter identification laws.