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Gov. Cooper selects Judge Allison Riggs to fill NC Supreme Court vacancy

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Gov. Cooper selects Judge Allison Riggs to fill NC Supreme Court vacancy

Sep 11, 2023 | 5:00 pm ET
By Clayton Henkel
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Gov. Cooper selects Judge Allison Riggs to fill NC Supreme Court vacancy
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Governor Cooper appointed Judge Allison Riggs to serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court and Judge Carolyn Thompson to serve on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. (Photo: Office of Gov. Roy Cooper. )

Nine months after Governor Roy Cooper appointed Allison Riggs to serve on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Cooper turned to Riggs again today, asking her to fill the vacancy created by the recent resignation of state Associate Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan.

In announcing the promotion Monday afternoon, the governor voiced unwavering confidence in both Riggs and for the woman who will be taking Riggs’ seat 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 Governor Cooper. “I am grateful for the willingness of Judge Riggs and Judge [Carolyn] 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.”

Riggs called the appointment one of “the most thrilling and humbling days” of her life.

In joining the High Court, Riggs will be reunited with Associate Justice Anita Earls. The two women worked closely together at the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Before joining the judiciary, Riggs was a civil rights litigator who took the lead on numerous voting rights cases, notably arguing twice before the United States Supreme Court. She received her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida.

Gov. Cooper selects Judge Allison Riggs to fill NC Supreme Court vacancy
Former Supreme Court Justice Michael Morgan – Photo: State of North Carolina

Thompson, who will move into Riggs’ seat on the Court of Appeals, is currently a Deputy Commissioner on the North Carolina Industrial Commission. She has previously served as a District and Superior Court Judge, presiding over civil, criminal, domestic, juvenile, and mental health proceedings. Thompson received her bachelor’s degree from Hampton University and her Juris Doctor from North Carolina Central School of Law.

Morgan announced on social media back in May that he would not seek reelection to his seat.

“With the incredibly good fortune to be the only person ever in NC to serve in 4 different judgeships over my 34 years of judicial service, I shall not seek to be reelected in 2024 as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina,” Morgan wrote.

The seat Riggs is filling will be on the 2024 State ballot.

Morgan, a Democrat, has been toying with the idea of running for governor. That would set him up with a primary challenge against Attorney General Josh Stein. Morgan has not formally made a decision yet but has said he still has “a desire to make a difference in the state of North Carolina.”

The next round of oral arguments before the Supreme Court are set for Tuesday.