Could the North Carolina Court of Appeals include a “Judicial Libertarian?”

Libertarian candidate for North Carolina Court of Appeals, Michael Monaco speaks to the Wake County Libertarian Party on his campaign, the purpose of the Court of Appeals, areas where NC law is behind the curve, and his inspiration in becoming a Libertarian.

Think back as far as you can in your political memory and you will probably recall three words that nearly every judicial candidate has made the center of their campaign, “Tough on Crime.” But self-described “judicial libertarian” and 2018 state-wide candidate for North Carolina Court of Appeals Michael Monaco sees a flaw in that approach.

“The slogan, ‘Tough on Crime’ makes no sense at the appeals level,” states Monaco, addressing a packed house at the Wake County Libertarian Party’s weekly meetup. “The NC Court of Appeals never decides questions of fact. It decides questions of law and procedure, such as due process rights. That is why my campaign is running on ‘Safeguarding Your Freedoms!’”

Michael Monaco will be the first Libertarian to seek election to the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

The court is just a teenager in government years, having formed in the late 1960’s to relieve some of the caseload from the North Carolina Supreme Court. It is comprised of fifteen judges selected by state-wide popular referendum. Unlike nearly every television court drama, only 10% of cases include an oral argument. Most are handled by written appeal.

Although the position focuses on questions of trial procedure or due process in mostly civil cases, Monaco identifies two areas of law where North Carolina needs to catch up with the rest of the nation. North Carolina is one of the few states, another being Alabama, where contributory negligence, no matter how slight, can be used to invalidate a harmed party’s damage claim. The other law, shared only with Mississippi, allows an innocent spouse to sue a third-party in cases of marital infidelity. In recent years, the Court of Appeals has issued rulings on these issues that were later overturned by the North Carolina Supreme Court, turning a spotlight onto these old, common law rules, and renewing conversations on reform.

Ultimately, changing the law is something for the General Assembly to tackle. Mr. Monaco has more far-reaching aspirations for his campaign. “There are two primary reasons I am running. The first is to demonstrate that the Libertarian Party is very serious about entering the political arena and changing the political discourse from schoolyard taunting to an adult conversation,” Monaco firmly establishes on his website. “The second is to educate North Carolinians about their judicial system and why votes for judicial candidates are so important.”

It seems like every Libertarian’s favorite anecdote is how they, themselves, became a libertarian. Mr. Monaco is no different. His journey started with a question from his teenage son, also named Michael. While watching one of the establishment party debates, the younger Monaco asked his father, “Seriously? Is this the way things are supposed to work?”

With the optimism of teenage years, Michael (the son, not the father) decided to change things for the better. Knowing he was not old enough to vote for Libertarian Gary Johnson, his preferred presidential candidate, Michael instead became a volunteer on Johnson’s 2016 North Carolina campaign. Seeing his son’s dedication and enthusiasm—and accompanying him to the 2017 Libertarian Party of North Carolina state convention—convinced Mr. Monaco that the Libertarian Party was the serious and civil political party for which he was yearning.

 “I feel that I’ve always been a libertarian because I vote on the issues, not party labels,” reflected Monaco. “The [establishment] parties have turned into something that is very tribal. There is no substance to it… there is no honest debate.” said Monaco. “Libertarians have a special power… we treat people like people, despite our differences. I want to set a new tone. I’m here. I’m serious. I’m respectful. I listen.”

You can see Mr. Monaco’s full presentation on the WakeLP’s YouTube channel, where you should like and subscribe.

To learn more about Mr. Monaco’s campaign, visit him online at

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