Cooper picks Riggs for Court of Appeals seat

December 16, 2022 at 2:48 p.m.

By Colin Campbell
NC Tribune

Gov. Roy Cooper named his pick Thursday to fill the N.C. Court of Appeals vacancy created by Republican Judge Richard Dietz’s election to Supreme Court.

Allison Riggs, co-executive director and chief counsel for voting rights at the left-leaning Southern Coalition for Social Justice, will join the appeals court when Dietz moves next door. Riggs has been among the lead attorneys on numerous high-profile lawsuits challenging redistricting and a variety of laws passed by the Republican legislature.

“Allison Riggs is a brilliant attorney and an experienced litigator who has spent her career fighting for fairness and defending people’s constitutional rights,” Cooper said in a news release.

Riggs will serve on the court until the 2024 election, when she’d need to run for a full term. Cooper’s appellate court appointees haven’t historically fared well on the ballot (although that’s due in part to GOP sweeps of statewide court races in recent cycles).

The Riggs pick is unpopular among conservatives, with John Locke Foundation CEO Amy Cooke calling her a “a highly partisan left-wing activist.” The new judge is unlikely to have a big influence on the court’s direction, as Republicans will hold 12 of 15 seats, while also holding a majority on the Supreme Court.