From the Hendersonville Times-News
MORGANTON — North Carolina’s Supreme Court justices are taking their work on the road this week as the court inches closer to its 200th anniversary.
Chief Justice Mark Martin and the six other justices scheduled oral arguments in pending cases in Morganton on Monday, followed by Hendersonville on Tuesday and Asheville on Wednesday.
In Hendersoville Tuesday, hour-long sessions will be held at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. at the Historic Courthouse, 1 Historic Courthouse Square on Main Street downtown.
State law usually allows the Supreme Court to meet in only three cities — Raleigh, Edenton and Morganton. But the legislature passed a law allowing them to meet anywhere this year through the end of 2020.
The Supreme Court was created in its current form in 1819. The court system already has held special events in observance of the bicentennial honoring the court’s current past and previous female and African American justices.
Tickets are required to attend Tuesday’s sessions, and all tickets are sold out.
Established in 1819, the N.C. Supreme Court was initially comprised of three justices who served “for periods of good behavior” that essentially became life terms. The court originally met only in Raleigh, but it was a location that proved to be burdensome to many N.C. residents as the state’s population began to push westward in the first half of the 19th century.
Prompted by its western constituency, the N.C. General Assembly enacted legislation requiring the court to hold monthly sessions in Morganton starting in 1847.
During its time in Morganton, the court held arguments in almost 500 cases. Remarkably, more than two-thirds of those cases were argued by either one of two Asheville brothers, John and Nicholas Woodfin. These sessions continued until 1861, when tensions preceding the Civil War prevented the court from leaving its permanent home in the state capital.
The N.C. Supreme Court has remained in Raleigh since that time, but it has recently held special sessions of court in Burke and Chowan counties. Thanks to legislation that was passed last year by the N.C. General Assembly, the court will convene several additional sessions of oral argument outside of Raleigh over the next three years as a part of its 200th anniversary celebration.
Taking the N.C. Supreme Court on the road aims to help promote discussion about the role of the courts and the importance of the rule of law in a free society.