by Mickayla McCann
Anita Earls is on a mission to ensure equal justice for all North Carolinians by running for the North Carolina Supreme Court in the 2018 election.
Regarded as one of the nation’s leading civil rights attorneys, Earls has spent the last 30 years tirelessly fighting to promote fair political processes.
She states that she was inspired to run for office after her work on civil rights cases revealed how important it is to have a fair and impartial judiciary.
“My candidacy was influenced by seeing through litigation how justice and protection of our civil rights is at stake,” Earls said. “I felt like it’s not enough to have good lawyers to represent the cases; you also need fair judges who will hear the evidence and apply the law equally to everyone.”
The 57-year-old Durham resident says the crowning achievement of her career was founding the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in 2007.
“I think what I’m most proud of, beyond any individual case, is the fact that there is now an organization that has trained and nurtured the next generation of civil rights attorneys and has represented clients across the South doing meaningful work,” Earls said.
Earls’ education and professional experience equips her to be a stellar Supreme Court Justice in service to the citizens of North Carolina. After graduating from Yale Law School, Earls spent her first 10 years in a private practice in Charlotte, litigating police misconduct, voting rights, and criminal defense cases. She then went on to be appointed by President Clinton as the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S Department of Justice, managing policy with a national impact. Earls later directed the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in Washington D.C. She also served as a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke, and the University of Maryland, teaching young attorneys about civil rights law. She is currently teaching at the Shriver Center’s Racial Justice Training Institute.
Aside from having witnessed injustice in the courts, Earls has firsthand experience with discrimination.
“I grew up in a mixed race family,” Earls said. “My father is black, and my mother is white. I saw the challenges and barriers that my father, his family, and I faced as people of color. I thought it would be possible to use the court system and the law to try and overcome some of those barriers. To me the most important thing our justice system can do is ensure that everyone is treated equally, without regard to race or wealth or gender.”
Earls states that not only are citizens experiencing clear racially disparate outcomes in court, but they also do not have equal access to the courts themselves. People across the nation need good legal advice but all too often can’t afford it.
“I would like to work hard to make it possible for everyone who needs access to the courts to have that ability, not just the wealthy,” Earls said. “You see supreme court justices highlighting the issues, holding forums, and bringing together the people who can create solutions. Yes, your constitutional duty is to decide cases, but it’s also to improve the administration of justice.
From her experience representing clients from all over the state, Earls has cultivated a deep understanding about what North Carolinians need. She recognizes that each county has unique problems and plans to use this perspective make sure everyone’s concerns are treated equally in court.
“People often ask what my judicial philosophy is, and I want to make clear that my goal is to apply the facts to the law fairly in every case,” Earls said. “There is no particular ideology that I strive to uphold; I just want to act with intellectual honesty and courage. I will be a justice that rules without fear or favor.”
To stay updated on Earls campaign, check out her website at https://earls4justice.com/