- Associated Press - Thursday, March 16, 2017

DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware’s Supreme Court has reassured Gov. John Carney that his judicial appointments won’t be upended by a federal lawsuit challenging the state’s century-old requirement of a balance between Democrats and Republicans.

“Our constitution, like any other law, is presumed to be valid,” the justices wrote in a letter to Carney. The governor is obligated to ensure that Delaware’s laws are faithfully executed, they said.

“If you do so, we do not see how any judicial appointment you make in compliance with the Delaware constitution and as a matter of your discretion can be upset after the fact,” the justices wrote.

Carney had sought an advisory opinion from the court on the constitutionality of the provision in Delaware’s constitution mandating a political balance among nominations and judgeships. The justices declined, advising him to seek an expedited action in the federal lawsuit, or to file a new lawsuit in state court.

“The core questions you ask about are not ones of state law,” the justices wrote. “They involve whether long-standing provisions of our state’s constitution somehow violate the federal constitution.”

A federal judge hearing the suit has given Carney until next Tuesday to respond.

Attorney James Adams sued last month, arguing that selecting judges partially on political affiliation while excluding members of minority parties violates the freedom of political association guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

Adams, who has worked in private practice and for the Delaware attorney general’s office, was until recently a registered Democrat. He says he has wanted to apply for judgeships in the past but knew that to do so would have been futile because he was not of the required political party.

Adams’ attorney, David Finger, said he’s pleased that the Supreme Court declined Carney’s request for an advisory opinion.

“The issue is one of federal constitutional law,” he said. “The best place to decide it is in the federal court.”

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