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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper added a sixth Democrat to the seven-member state Supreme Court on Monday, elevating a current Court of Appeals judge to a vacancy created when Cooper recently named Cheri Beasley the chief justice.

Cooper, also a Democrat, announced he's appointing Judge Mark Davis as an associate justice. Davis will begin serving next month at least through 2020, and says he will campaign for a full term. Davis fills Beasley's old seat, which she held for over six years until she succeeded Chief Justice Mark Martin on March 1.

Davis will "continue to serve the people of North Carolina with great distinction, and I appreciate his willingness to take on this crucial role," Cooper said while presenting Davis at an Executive Mansion news conference.

Martin's surprise resignation to become dean of the Regent University law school in Virginia set in motion some chair shuffling within North Carolina's two appeals courts, which Cooper is empowered by state law to orchestrate. Cooper now also gets to pick Davis' successor on the 15-member Court of Appeals, which usually meets in three-judge panels to hear cases.

Davis' appointment emphasizes the recent dramatic change in the partisan composition of the Supreme Court, which has ruled this decade in politically charged decisions involving redistricting and Republican laws that eroded Cooper's powers. In some states, judicial races are nonpartisan. North Carolina candidates for nearly all judicial offices now run in partisan races, identified by political party.

Registered Republicans held a majority on North Carolina's high court for nearly 20 years before Democrats took a 4-3 seat advantage with the November 2016 election. Democrats picked up another seat last November, leaving Martin and Associate Justice Paul Newby as the only Republicans. Now Davis' appointment gives Democrats a 6-1 seat advantage.

While Cooper had no obligation to keep two Republicans on the court, GOP Senate leader Phil Berger still criticized the governor for picking another Democrat. Berger said in a release Cooper's that previous calls for a nonpartisan judiciary and balanced state government were just "empty rhetoric. Gov. Cooper is the hyper-partisan he has long condemned." Cooper's office didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

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